Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Air Quality in Delhi (daily updates)

This is modeled source contributions to the ambient particulate pollution (PM2.5) in South Delhi district (one of the 14 districts in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi). The calculations are conducted in forecast mode. More NCR district reports @ Delhi Air Quality.Info

  • TRA.PASS = pollution from passenger vehicles (2Ws, 3Ws, 4Ws, Taxis, and Buses) including vehicle exhaust and associated resuspended dust 
  • TRA.FRGT= pollution from freight vehicles (heavy and light trucks, and non-road vehicles) including vehicle exhaust and associated resuspended dust 
  • RESI = pollution from domestic cooking, space heating, water heating, and lighting 
  • IND.BK = pollution from industrial activities and brick kilns 
  • PP.GS = pollution from power plants and in-situ diesel generator sets 
  • BDY.INTRU = pollution linked to boundary conditions, in other words, pollution from outside the 80 km x 80 km modeling domain; which is calculated from a simulation over the Indian subcontinent, including the anthropogenic emissions, seasonal fires and dust events (calculated based on the most recent satellite data), and other natural sources 
  • OTHERS = pollution from open waste burning and construction dust
A number of source apportionment studies were conducted in Delhi (more in Delhi than in any of the other Indian cities). We summarized the known particulate pollution source apportionment studies, as an open article, "what's polluting Delhi's air". A snapshot of the shares from one of the studies is presented below.

The modeled particulate pollution in the forecast mode for the next three days is presented in the animation below. Similar animations and daily average concentration maps for all the criteria pollutants are available @ Delhi Air Quality Info

See what is happening at the regional scale, which is conducted as part of the all India air pollution forecasting program, hosted @ The animation below is from a WRF-CAMx simulation conducted @ 0.25x0.25 degree resolution (approximately, 25km x 25km).

The pollution patterns change every hour and every day, depending on the prevalent meteorological conditions - wind speed, wind direction, temperature, and precipitation. Under windy conditions, most of the emissions get dispersed to farther places; Under rainy conditions, most of the emissions get drained out. Want to see how the weather pattern is holding up for the next three days in Delhi. Check out @ Below is an animation of the anticipated wind speeds and wind directions from the WRF meteorological model - also used by IMD for their forecasts.

The monitoring data from the DPCC stations reported as an air quality index by AQICN is as follows for one of the stations

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Zealand's Poor Air Quality

Most images of New Zealand show a pristine environment of great beauty. It therefore comes as a surprise that airborne particle pollution in many towns is above World Health Organisation guidelines. This is not due to the diesel cars that confound efforts to manage air pollution in Europe, or the density of cities and industry that contributes to problems in east Asia, Europe and parts of north America. It is due mainly to home heating.

With limited availability of natural gas and expensive electricity many New Zealanders, especially those in the South Island, rely on wood burning to heat their homes. National standards for particle pollution allow for one polluted day per year but Christchurch measured eight in 2015 and the city of Timaru breached standards on 26 days.

New Zealand’s poorly insulated homes and fuel poverty contribute to high winter deaths and children’s asthma. No heating is not an option. Better wood stoves or heat pumps are alternatives, along with insulation, but upgrading homes takes time and even with modern stoves the smoke produced depends on the user . Teaching people to burn wood better could help air pollution right away. The Warmer Cheaper programme takes you step by step through lighting a fire and keeping it going for the evening with the least pollution. One of the main causes of smoke is insufficient kindling. Schools and community groups are therefore being harnessed to sell kindling and an award-winning invention, the Kindling Cracker, by Kiwi teenager Ayla Hutchinson can help people chop kindling easily and safely.

Read the full article @ the Guardian

Northern India Contributes to Shrinking of Glaciers

@ Third Pole - The region covering the mighty Himalaya-Hindukush mountains and the Tibetan plateau happens to be the third largest ice-covered region on the planet falling behind the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. The Asian region, covered in ice and house to several glaciers, is thus nicknamed as the Third Pole. And like the other snow-covered regions on the planet, the glaciers in this region are not being spared by climate change and global warming. They are shrinking.

Read the full article @ Indian Express

Quoting a Chinese study, The Washington Post recently reported that almost 18 per cent of China’s glaciers have melted over the last five decades. reports that Western China itself serves as a home to 48,571 glaciers covering an area of 51,840 sq km. Thus the results are alarming as the Third Pole is located near densely populated countries like India and China, unlike the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. While the shrinking of glaciers will affect the water supply and industrialisation in these areas, billions of people sprawled in these countries are bound to be adversely affected subsequently. The Indus River, for instance, is fed by the melting water from the Chinese glaciers.

Apart from global warming, another factor that aggravates the melting of glaciers in the Third Pole is air pollution. China and India are among the worst-ranked countries in air pollution. A Greenpeace report states that coal burning is the biggest contributor of air pollution in China and surrounding areas and if China wants to work on its problem of air pollution, it has to reduce its coal consumption. However, in a new study published in journal Nature Communications, researchers found out how black carbon acts as a catalyst in the melting of glaciers in the Third Pole region.

Using “chemical fingerprinting”, researchers analysed what kind of burning produces the black carbon particles found all across the Third Pole. The results were astounding. Burning of fossil fuels along with biomass like animal dung and plant matter contribute gravely to the creation of black carbon particles. While most of the Tibetan Plateau was being directly affected by the fossil fuel burning in China, the black carbon found in the Himalayan region was mostly coming from northern India.

Researchers also noted that the sampled black carbon in the central part of the Tibetan plateau was coming from from biomass burning rather than fossil fuels. This could point towards the Tibetan practices like burning yak dung for cooking and heating. Researcher Shichang Kang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research said it was “very surprising” that these processes were contributing more towards the melting of glaciers in certain parts of the region, The Washington Post reports.

The study could help controlling the situation since earmarks the areas that need to be worked upon. For instance, in the Tibetan region, the government could help the locals find alternatives to burning biomass. Similarly, industries in the vicinity could also formulate plans to reduce the black carbon production.

Air Pollution in Pimpri Chinchwad Increased 35% in the Last Six Years

Air pollution in the city is monitored at six places. The percentage of pollutants has increased due to emissions from public as well as private vehicles, the report states. Like most years in the past, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has submitted the environment status report much after the July 31 deadline even as it has expressed an ambition to prepare a time-bound programme for environment-friendly development. The report considers poor rainfall last year and variations in the weather, besides rising vehicular population as main reasons for increased air pollution in the city. On the air pollution in the city, the report also blames the poor rainfall last year and the variations in temperatures, besides public and individual vehicles.

Read the full report @ Times of India