IIT-M sets up aerosol testing centre in the Western Ghats

‘It will study the impact of changing aerosol on rainfall’

Published - March 04, 2021 11:41 pm IST - Chennai

The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) has established an atmospheric aerosol monitoring facility at Munnar in the Western Ghats.

The laboratory was set up in collaboration with the College of Engineering, Munnar, and the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Kerala.

The Natural Aerosol and Bioaerosol High Altitude Laboratory will study the various atmospheric and climate-related trends of the region. IIT-M and the Institute of Climate Change Studies, Kottayam, have signed an agreement to exchange scientific ideas and build capacity in the area of climate change.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently inaugurated the laboratory during a virtual ceremony.

In his inaugural speech, Mr. Vijayan said the strategic location of the laboratory would help understand the various aspects of the monsoon, which had shown an increasing trend and frequency of extreme rainfall events. “We have experienced devastating floods and landslips in our State over the last few years,” he said and urged the researchers to study if increasing human activities had a role to play in such extreme extreme weather events.

The laboratory is located 1,600 m above mean sea level and about 90 km from the Arabian Sea coast on the premises of the College of Engineering, Munnar. It will host state-of-the-art high-end aerosol, gas-phase and atmospheric measurement instruments.

Sachin S. Gunthe, coordinator of the laboratory and assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-M, said: “We are in a special location due to the contrasting seasons when the air mass is clean during monsoon and relatively polluted during winter. This provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of changing aerosol on cloud and rainfall forming processes.”

The laboratory has been set up with support from Sharp Business System (India).

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