A large SO2 pollution in Iraq observed from space

OMI SO2 (DU) over Iraq in 2016.10.24 (Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8894)
MODIS true color image of 2016.10.24 – Aerosol plume in Iraq following the fire from the sulphur facility (Source: htt[://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=88994)

Sometimes, atmospheric satellite observations and reality are combined together delivering then measurements of a sad reality…

This is the case with this map of SO2 (sulphure dioxide) pollution retrieved from OMI (cf. Nikolay Krotkov). This tremenduous pollution is caused by a fire, in October 2016, at the Al-Mishraq sulphur facility. It could be then monitored in almost real time. Because it stayed in the first days close to the surface, two people died and up to 1000 have been treated for breathing problems.

The white-gray colour, as depicted by MODIS sensor, illustrates the presence of sulfate aerosols and droplets of sulfuric acid. Both components highly reflect the sun light. The black carbon from the Oayyarah oil field lead to a black smoke, as these particles absorb light.

Note a similar fire was already identified 13 years ago by atmospheric scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. It released 21 kilotons of toxic sulfur dioxide per day.

More information here.


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