Bihar, Jharkhand now 'covered with soot'

Once pollution free land of the Buddha has 'degenerated' so much that it looks like a patch of thick brown soot and dust. A NASA research team examining air pollution levels over the Indian subcontinent has found an immense pollution pool over Bihar and Jharkhand, about five times thicker than those typically found over Los Angeles.

The NASA researchers, who studied Terra satellite images and data, have discovered a 'huge wintertime pool' of pollution over the twin states. "The Gangetic Valley, home to around 10 crore people, is blanketed heavily with smog and it must be having a tremendous impact on the local climate in Bihar and Jharkhand and the health of the people that reside within this pool,'the researchers said.

This finding was made after analysis of the data collected by the Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer(MISE) on board the Terra satellite over a period of four years. Terra, lofted into orbit on Dec. 18, 1999, is the flagship of NASA's earth Observating System Program. The amount of particulate matter, including that generated from man-made pollution in the atmosphere, was determined by measuring reflected sunlight at nine angles.

While high pollution levels were found over much of India, a concentrated pool of particles was discovered over Bihar and Jharkhand, a largely rural area with a high population density. A large source contributing to pollution pool is the inefficient burning of a variety of bio-fuels during cooking and other domestic use.

A NASA researcher said, "Particles in the smoke remain close to the ground , trapped by valley walls, and are unable to mix upward because of a high pressure system that dominates the region during winter."

The pollution pool must be having a tremendous impact on the local climate in Bihar and Jharkhand and the health of the approximately 10 crore people residing within this pool. Our long-term goal is to better predict the occurrence of these pollution episodes and their impact on public health and local climate.


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