Kozhikode: Salty mist burns plants

Published Jul 2, 2015, 10:40 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 4:43 pm IST
Heat burst, acid rain not responsible for burnt greenery
Representational image
 Representational image
Kozhikode: The  phenomenon of burnt vegetation found along the Kerala  coast is just a ‘salt injury’ caused due to salty mist formed when dry wind hits the top of three-metre-high waves.  A study conducted by two scientists of the centre for water resources development and management has concluded that there was neither a ‘heat burst’ nor an acid rain.
CWRDM senior scientists Dr E.J. Joseph and Dr P.S. Harikumar collected the plant samples and analysed the data from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology,  Pune, Indian National Centre for Ocean Infor-mation Services, Hydera-bad, and the automatic weather recording station at Kasargod and concluded that the rare phenomenon was caused due to a low pressure formation on the coast of Gujarat-Maharashtra that sucked the moist air from the Kerala side.
“The data we collected from IITM had shown that there was an air movement from the Kerala coast to Gujarat-Maharashtra coast due to a low pressure formation there. When the moist air was sucked by the low pressure area, what remained was dry air which is naturally hot. The data from INCOIS, which studies the wave dynamics, had shown that the waves in our coast during the days of the phenomenon were three-metres-high. When the dry air hit these huge waves, there was a salt mist formation and that worked as a salt spray, causing salt injuries,” Dr E.J. Joseph told DC.
The scientists ruled out the widely suspected reasons. They found  that the plant samples collected from the site had no change in the PH level and were not burnt completely. “If it was an acid rain, the leaves would have burnt completely and also their PH levels would come down. So we ruled out that,” he said.
The scientists also found  that the leaves were burnt from the side, and the top portion of the plants was intact. Moreover,  they found several areas from Kasargod to Kollam were affected in the same way. “If it was a heat burst, the plants would have their top portions burnt and it would have also caused harm to birds and smaller animals. Moreover, heat burst will not happen at such a large area.  The burnt leaves had higher amount of salts  than other leaves and considering other data along with this we concluded  that it was a salt injury that burnt the leaves,” he added.
The phenomenon has no effect on animals, birds or humans and is  not likely to continue. Ho-wever, the CWRDM team has submitted its report suggesting that there be more temperature, atmosphere and wave monitoring stations along the coast to understand similar climatic phenomena. 
Location: Kerala


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