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Pollution in North India and Pak to remain at dangerous levels: US agency

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released satellite pictures and explained the reasons behind such a polluting atmosphere in major parts of north India and Pakistan

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Vehicles drive through heavy smog near Akshardham Metro Station in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
Vehicles drive through heavy smog near Akshardham Metro Station in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Cities in north and will continue to experience dangerous level of smog- filled pollution over the next several months and the region is just entering its season, a top American atmospheric organisation has said.

"This is just the start to the season in northern and Pakistan, as the monsoon will last for much of the upcoming winter. That means there are plenty of more opportunities for cold, stagnant air to fill with pollution, turning cities into dangerously unhealthy snow globes," Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement yesterday.


released satellite pictures and explained the reasons behind such a polluting atmosphere in major parts of north and

Widespread caused by the combustion of fuels, and the burning of crops and fires made it dangerous to be outside in cities in northern and Pakistan, it said.

For air to get this polluted, in addition to needing a good amount of human help from the combustion of fuels and burning of crops and garbage, there needs to be specific atmospheric conditions that let the air remain still enough for pollution to accumulate, it said.

"This stagnation occurs when there is an inversion layer in the atmosphere," said.

An inversion layer refers to instances where the air does not cool as one moves up in the atmosphere, it explained.

"Instead, warmer air sits on top of denser, colder air near the ground. Since that cold air has no place to go thanks to the warm lid placed atop it, it just sits there gathering pollution like a hazy snow-globe," said.

So, in late fall across the Indian Sub continent, the Northeast Monsoon is beginning to take hold, it said, adding that, the Northeast monsoon is driven by temperatures differences between the land and surrounding waters.

At this time of year, the large landmass to the north begins to cool down considerably forming a dense, cold air mass known as the Siberia high pressure system.

Meanwhile, the waters off of remain warm. This contrast draws northerly winds across northern India, bringing cold air down off the Tibetan Plateau. The cold air settles into the valleys, creating inversions, said.

Referring to satellite images, said the widespread burning of crop fields in northern contributed to dangerous levels of air pollution in cities across northern and

At the US Embassy in New Delhi, hourly AQI values for PM2.5 taken on November 7 through 10 exceeded 500 with an astounding recording of 1010 at 4PM local time on November 8.

Hourly readings still peaked in the Hazardous category (301-500 AQI) through November 14.

First Published: Thu, November 16 2017. 08:27 IST
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