Natural Hazards

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 929–954 | Cite as

Decline in horizontal surface visibility over India (1961–2008) and its association with meteorological variables

  • Ashok K. JaswalEmail author
  • Naresh Kumar
  • Anup K. Prasad
  • Menas Kafatos
Original Paper


Horizontal surface visibility range, one of the simplest measures of local atmospheric pollution, is critical for aviation, surface transport besides long-term impact on human health and climate. Long-term observations from multiple stations (including airports) across the world show statistically significant decline in visibility. We have studied climatology and trends of morning poor visibility days (PVD, visibility <4 km) and afternoon good visibility days (GVD, visibility >10 km) based on 279 surface meteorological stations well distributed over India for the period 1961–2008. During last 5 decades, all India averaged range of annual morning PVD has increased from 6.7 to 27.3 % days, while the range of afternoon GVD has decreased from 76.1 to 30.6 % days. Annually, the morning PVD increased significantly at 3.3 % days per decade, and the afternoon GVD declined significantly at −8.6 % days per decade. Seasonally, the highest increase in morning PVD has occurred in winter (+4.3 % days per decade), while post-monsoon has the highest decrease in afternoon GVD (−9.2 % days per decade). In spatial distribution, visibility has decreased nationwide especially over Indo-Gangetic (IG) plains, central, east and northeast India which is due to increased wintertime fog, water vapor and aerosol loading. The IG plains suffer from increased fog or smog and aerosol loading during wintertime. Long-term visibility impairment over India is visible through increasing morning PVD (decreasing GVD) and decreasing afternoon GVD (increasing PVD) which are spatially well correlated with increasing relative humidity and decreasing wind speed (seasonal).


Visibility Relative humidity Wind speed Trend Correlation Aerosols 



We thank Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, for giving permission to publish this study. We thank SSAI and IGC for partial financial support to conduct this study (AKP). We express our sincere thanks to referee(s) for suggesting improvements in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashok K. Jaswal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Naresh Kumar
    • 2
  • Anup K. Prasad
    • 3
    • 4
  • Menas Kafatos
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.India Meteorological DepartmentPuneIndia
  2. 2.India Meteorological DepartmentNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Schmid College of ScienceChapman UniversityOrangeUSA
  4. 4.Center of Excellence in Earth ObservingChapman UniversityOrangeUSA

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