IIT Madras Establishes High-Altitude Atmospheric Aerosol Monitoring Facility at Munnar in Western Ghats

 

Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras has established a state-of-the-art Natural Aerosol and Bioaerosol High Altitude Laboratory at Munnar, Kerala, in the Western Ghats. It has been set up in collaboration with the College of Engineering Munnar and Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Kerala, with support from Sharp Business System (India) Pvt. Ltd.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan virtually inaugurated the Laboratory on 20th February 2021. It has been established to gain a better understanding of the atmospheric and climate-related aspects of the region with special emphasis on aerosol measurements.

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between IIT Madras and the Institute for Climate Change Studies, Kottayam, for the exchange of scientific ideas and capacity building in the area of climate change.

The function was attended by representatives of IIT Madras and College of Engineering Munnar. Sri. S. Rajendran, Devikulam MLA, Sri. M. Chandradathan, Scientific Advisor to the Chief Minister of Kerala, and Prof. KP Sudheer, Executive Vice President, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, among others.

Delivering a virtual inaugural address, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala, said, “The strategic location of the proposed laboratory is very important to understand the important aspects of the monsoon, which has shown an increasing trend and frequency of extreme rainfall events due to climate change and global warming. We have experienced devastating floods and landslides in our State over the last few years. I request scientists to make the best use of this facility to study whether the increasing human activities have any role in such incidents.”

Though there are several high altitude atmospheric and climate science laboratories in the country, this facility contains several unique features. IIT Madras intends to open this facility to the national and international community to perform the measurements of their interest.

Addressing the event, Prof. KP Sudheer, Executive Vice President, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment, said, “This laboratory is the result of a long-term association between IIT Madras and the College of Engineering Munnar. The upcoming measurement of aerosol properties and meteorological parameters is a very important step forward.”

Located at 1,600 meters above mean sea level and about 90 kms from the Arabian Sea coast of Kerala, this Natural Aerosol and Bioaerosol High Altitude Laboratory is situated in the College of Engineering Munnar premises. It will host state-of-the-art high-end aerosol, gas-phase and atmospheric measurement instruments.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT Madras, said, “IIT Madras is very happy to have successfully established this laboratory. The strategic location of the laboratory and unique climate in this region will help attract more international collaboration.”

IIT Madras further plans to strengthen the use and the facilities at this laboratory by establishing collaboration with reputed national and international institutions and universities known for climate change and Earth system science studies.

Dr. Sachin S. Gunthe, Coordinator of the Laboratory and Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, 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 properties on cloud and rainfall forming processes.”

 

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