ISRO, along with special national scientific institutions, has launched a special land based campaign on atmospheric aerosols. The campaign started on February 1 and will continue till February 29, 2004.

During this special campaign, vehicles equipped with sophisticated instruments will travel about 6000 km in south India to measure physical, chemical and optical properties of aerosols and trace gases along the road corridors. The month of February has been specifically chosen for the campaign since, during this period, there will not be any draw down of aerosols due to precipitation and hence provide average conditions of aerosols in the ambient environment.

The Indian continent, by virtue of its geographical position and anthropogenic pressures on land as well as development of industries, have resulted in rapid changes in the land use and land cover pattern. These regional and geographical processes of Indian sub-continent, which is surrounded by Indian Ocean, are also influenced by the intercontinental transport of various atmospheric processes and trace gases making the continent as one of the conduit for accumulation of various green house gases, aerosols and trace gases. These atmospheric constituents play a major role in perturbing the radiation reaching the earth’s surface. Some of the trace gases, though have short residence time, can perturb the radiation periodically. The problem of aerosols and atmospheric trace gases concentration appears to be on the rise over the Indian continent and there is a need to document the sources and composition of aerosols.

The ” Special Land Based Campaign on Aerosols “, would provide better insight on the properties of composition of aerosols and their distribution across various latitudes. The understanding of the aerosols characteristics and chemistry will help in better quantifying the atmospheric radiative forcing. It is also proposed to launch balloons and fly instruments in aircraft to study the vertical and advection of the constituents in the 4-5 km boundary layer.

The present campaign, which is a part of the on-going Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, is the first of its kind in the country. ISRO proposes to cover the northern and north-eastern region road corridors in the next 2-3 years. ISRO has also plans to cover the Arabian and Bay of Bengal Oceanic region for accounting the aerosols and trace gas concentrations using ship-borne instruments.

The Institutions participating in the campaign include : National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Hyderabad and Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad of the Department of Space; ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Thiruvananthapuram; Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) New Delhi; National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi; Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune; Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore; Andhra University, Vishakapatnam; and Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Ananthapur.