Low level of stratospheric ozone near the Jharia coal field in India
The Indian reserve of coking coal is mainly located in the Jharia coal field in Jharkhand. Although air pollution due to oxides and dioxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur is reported to have increased in this area due to large-scale opencast mining and coal fires, no significant study on the possible impact of coal fires on the stratospheric ozone concentration has been reported so far. The possible impact of coal fires, which have been burning for more than 90 years on the current stratospheric ozone concentration has been investigated using satellite based data obtained from Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS MLS), Earth Observing System Microwave Limb Sounder (EOS MLS) and Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) in this paper. The stratospheric ozone values for the years 1992–2007, in the 28–36 km altitude range near Jharia and places to its north are found to be consistently lower than those of places lying to its south (up to a radius of 1000 km around Jharia) by 4.0–20%. This low stratospheric ozone level around Jharia is being observed and reported for the first time. However, due to lack of systematic ground-based measurements of tropospheric ozone and vertical ozone profiles at Jharia and other far off places in different directions, it is difficult to conclude strongly on the existence of a relationship between pollution from coal fires and stratospheric ozone depletion.