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Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is the country's national space agency. It is responsible for the execution of the space and atmospheric science as well as space technology programs in the country, as approved by the Government of Pakistan. SUPARCO is an autonomous R&D organization.


The growing awareness and concerns about the impacts of air pollution have triggered a number of national and international actions in the recent years. SUPARCO acquires Satellite as well as ground-based data for environmental studies. Realizing the importance of clean air. SUPARCO has established a full-fledged air quality monitoring facility. This includes state of the art US EPA designated ambient air monitoring equipment for sulphur dioxide, oxides of Nitrogen, ozone, Hydrocarbons (methane & nonmethane), PAHs, VOCs, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, total suspended particulates including PM10 & PM2.5 lead and other trace and toxic metals (Pb, As, Cd, Cr, Ni, Hg, etc.), Anions (SO4-2 , NO-3 , Cl-), etc. Facilities also exist for source emission monitoring


The important objective in environmental pollution studies is to identify pollution sources, to determine their relative contribution and propose the most suitable mitigation measures. The environmental monitoring providesguidance for future land use and transportation planning, Industrial site selection etc.

SUPARCO has been conducting year long air quality assessment studies in the major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Peshawar (An UNDP/ENERCON Project). The sampling campaign includes ambient air pollution monitoring on round the clock basis, at each sampling site in the study areas. The existing levels of the pollutants are correlated with meteorological data and source inventories. The tracer technique was employed to assess the pollutant dispersion as well as source identification and source apportionment.


SUPARCO has in the past, carried out a number of Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Impact Assessments, Pollutant Emissions, Transport, Transformation, Deposition and Effects Studies,Preparation of Source Inventories, and Environmental Audits of many industrial units.


SUPARCO also provides environmental services such as environmental audits, stack emission monitoring, ambient air surveys and other environmental assessment studies etc to different environmental enterprises, industrial units. Some agencies to which services were regularly rendered include

  1. Ministry of Environment, Islamabad
  2. Federal Environmental Protection Agency, Islamabad
  3. Environmental Protection Agency, Sindh
  4. Environmental Protection Agency, Balochistan
  5. Environmental Protection Agency, N.W.F.P
  6. M/s BP Pakistan Exploration & Production Inc. Karachi
  7. M/s Pakistan Engineering Services (Pvt), Lahore
  8. M/s Solution Environmental and Analytical Laboratory, Karachi
  9. M/s Karachi Electric Supply Company, Karachi

In the recent years, the problem of acid precipitation and its deleterious effects on terrestrial ecosystem have become a major environmental concern. This has led to initiation of numerous studies to characterize the chemical composition of the atmosphere in terms of trace gases, aerosols, precipitation (wet and dry) etc, and to analyse the interactions between these constituents. Precipitation acidity is caused primarily by the presence of H2SO4 and HNO3 in the atmosphere. The primary sources of atmospheric H2SO4 and HNO3 are combustion of fossil fuels, smelters and other industrial processes, besides their natural emissions through volcanic eruptions etc. In addition to SO2 and NOx, many other chemical species such as ozone, trace elements and hydrocarbons are also associated with these air masses resulting in both homogenous (gas phase) and heterogeneous (liquid phase) reactions. Owing to the frequent occurrence of clouds, the cloud droplets facilitate chemical reactions and play an important role both in the transformation and delivery to terrestrial surface of atmospheric pollutants. In one of the studies, the cloud water and aerosols samples at and around Nathiagali were collected. The aim of the investigation was to determine the chemical characteristics of clouds and to correlate these with regional sources or meteorological parameters. By combining aerosols, precipitation and cloud chemistry, information regarding acid rain and the role of clouds in the cycling of chemical species through the atmosphere would help in analyzing the phenomena of acid rain in this part of the world and help in assessing its deleterious effects/contribution in deforestation process.


SUPARCO has analyzed the fog aerosol to ascertain the causes, to assess the behavior, trends and impact of different elements and compounds during 1998-2004. Excessively high sulphate (SO4-2 ) concentrations varying from 49.8 to 141 mg/m3 (microgram) and NO3- from 3 to 74.5 mg/m3 concentrations were observed during the fog which is emitted by combustion of fossil fuel in industries. Exceptionally high trace element aerosol concentrations were also observed, for example, Se (Selenium) concentrations up to 258ng/ m3 , AS (Arsenic) of 26 ng/ m3 and Sb (Antimony) 84.8 ng/ m3 . These similarities are due to their common source, i.e. combustion of fossil fuel, which results in production of SO4-2 and NO3- . Tracer study shows that the air parcels contributing to the Lahore fog originated from approximately 580Km away to south. The remote sensing satellite data taken from Meteosat, NOAA, Modis satellites show haze/fog extending over 1,500Kms extending from north eastern India to northeastern Pakistan, is caused by excessive fossil fuel combustion (mainly coal) in India.


Ozone measurement from twenty years satellite, Nimbus 7 Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS)instrument, on board the Russian Meteor 3 satellite have been used to determine trends in total ozone over Pakistan. Long term trend estimates obtained from the linear multiple regression analysis show no significant ozone trend in the south of the country (Karachi). However, the measurement for mid latitude (Lahore, Quetta) northern region (Chitral 35° N, 71° E)have shown significantnegative trend in ozone. The objective of this study was to present the result of an analysis of the TOMS total ozone data over Pakistan.


Dr. Badar Ghauri
Deputy Chief Manager
Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
P. O. Box# 8402 Karachi 75270
Tel: 91 21 4650765 up to 79
Fax: 92 21 4644928, 4644491
Email: [email protected]

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