Ballooning risk

Published: Wednesday 31 March 2004

The thick brown haze largely seen in the South Asian skies is spreading to newer areas like the Gulf region. V Ramanathan, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, usa, revealed that the West Asian region, too, is being sucked into the global pollution circuit moving several kilometres above the ground.

The haze is a cocktail of ash, aerosols and black soot that results mainly from diesel, dirty coal and biomass burning (see: 'Aerial raid', Down To Earth, August 15, 2002). "This could be coming locally or from several hundred kilometres away," said Ramanathan, adding that no research had been done on the impact of oil refineries along the Gulf coastline.

A United Nations Environment Programme (unep)-supported research effort, led by Ramanathan and his Nobel laureate colleague, Paul Crutzen, had come in for severe criticism from the Indian government. Consequently, the blanket of pollution, originally termed the 'Asian Brown Cloud', has now been given the name 'Atmospheric Brown Cloud' by the unep.

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