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Ceramic industry at Morbi as a large source of sulfur dioxide pollution in India

Observations from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), onboard the NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) Aura satellite, reveal a large Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution “hotspot” over Morbi, Gujarat, India, attributed to the ceramic industries in the area. OMI estimated an upward pollution trend of ~300% between 2009 and 2016.

India’s ceramic industry is an important source of anthropogenic SO2 emissions that is not accounted for in common emissions inventories but can be estimated from satellite OMI SO2 data.

OMI estimates three-fold increase in SO2 emissions in the Morbi region: from ~100 kt in 2009 up to ~300 kt in 2016

These new OMI emissions estimates can be used to monitor the impact of policy regulations to close Morbi-based ceramic units that are running on coal gasifiers.

Technical description of figure:

Mean OMI-derived SO2 vertical column densities (VCDs) in Dobson Units [1 DU = 2.69*1016 SO2 molecules cm-2] without the large-scale bias over Morbi, Gujarat, India, for the four time periods as indicated on the plot. The main industrial sources are shown by the black dots. 

Scientific significance, societal relevance, and relationships to future missions:

These new satellite-derived estimates can be used to help make more informed decisions on impacts of SO2 emissions from the ceramic industries, as well as from oil refineries and power plants, on environment and human health.

Data Sources:

Can Li, Nickolay A. Krotkov, Peter Leonard, and Joanna Joiner (2019), OMI/Aura Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Total Column 1-orbit L2 Swath 13x24 km V003, Greenbelt, MD, USA, Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) (2019), Accessed: [Data Access Date], DOI:

References: Kharol, S.K., V. Fioletov, C.A. McLinden, M.W. Shephard, C.E. Sioris, C. Li, N.A. Krotkov (2020). Ceramic industry at Morbi as a large source of SO2 emissions in India, Atmospheric Environment, 223,