A mosaic of two Landsat thematic mapper images acquired May 30, 1991, reveals a dark smoke plume 30-60 km wide extending hundreds of kilometers south of Kuwait City along the Persian Gulf. Smoke coming from the Raudhatain and Sabriyah oil fields blew across the Gulf of Kuwait and over Kuwait City, joined with smoke from the Greater Burgan and Minagish fields, and continued southward over smaller villages and regions of desert agriculture consisting of hundreds of axially irrigated fields in both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. One agricultural region in Kuwait was completely obscured by the smoke. The light colored limestone gravel and sand surface was darkened by oil lakes near the wells, and by oil drizzling out of the plume downwind of the wells. Most fires produced either a light or dark plume, and the separate plumes mixed to form a combined plume much darker than the land surface, but slightly more reflective than the Gulf waters. A few of the hottest fires had no visible plume, and are presumably associated with methane combustion. The last of the Kuwait fires was reportedly extinguished in November of 1991. Continued monitoring is needed to assess the impact of emissions from both burning and nonburning oil wells on the region's climate, as well as on the agriculture, fishing, and other activities essential to life in the region.
Journal of Geophysical Research
- Pub Date:
- September 1992
- Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Climatology;
- Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Convective processes;
- Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Mesoscale meteorology;
- Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Radiative processes