Aerosol optical thickness trends and population growth in the Indian subcontinent

Pavel Kishcha*, Boris Starobinets, Olga Kalashnikova, Pinhas Alpert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Indian subcontinent occupies 2.4% of the world land mass and is home to ~17% of the world population. It is characterized by a wide range of population density (P), significant population growth and high levels of air pollution. The quantification of the effect of urbanization on aerosol optical thickness (AOT) trends was carried out by analysing 8-year (March 2000 to February 2008) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Multiangle Imaging Spectro Radiometer (MISR) satellite data. Here we show that over extensive areas with differing population densities, which are significant parts of the Indian subcontinent, (1) the higher the averaged population density the bigger the averaged AOT and (2) the larger the population growth the stronger the increasing trends in AOT. Over the regions with P > 100 persons km-2 (more than 70% of the territory), a population growth of ~1.5% year-1 was accompanied by increasing AOT trends of over 2% year-1. The presence of the aforementioned AOT trends is evidence of air quality deterioration, in particular in highly populated areas with P > 500 persons km-2. This situation could worsen with the continued growth of the Indian population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9137-9149
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2011


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