The temperature in India during the winter months and the severity of the dense fog blanket and thick haze, especially in the Indo Gangetic plains has always caught the attention of experts and weathermen at Skymet. Although it will not be long before the temperature in India changes, the dark white winter shroud disappears and be forgotten about, there’s one thing about the winter temperature in India that will leave a mark in the history of weather records. This is the intensity and the duration of the thick haze and dense fog cover in the Indo Gangetic plains that has increased considerably over the years due to a number of reasons.
The rapid changes in the temperature of India have been a topic of discussion and study for not just weathermen of India but for NASA as well. This image captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows a thick haze cover over the Indo Gangetic plains, starting from the Himalayas and going up to the Bengal Sea.
The conclusions drawn for this thick haze cover by experts at NASA are a mixing up of air masses and a combination of urban and industrial pollution, agricultural fires, and a regional meteorological phenomenon. The air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than the air near the surface, this is a situation in which warm air rises and pollutants are dispersed. However, cold temperature in India in the winter months makes the cold air settles over northern India, trapping the warmer air and the pollution with it. Needless to say, this causes great impact on human health. Jatin Singh CEO of the Skymet Weather, says “The aerosol loading has increased considerably also because of the growing population, urbanization, and industrialization in recent years in countries like India and China.” On the other hand it is believed by some that the number of respiratory problems is quite high in areas of Kolkata, Allahabad, Benaras, Haridwar, where coastal mist and haze stays all throughout the year, apart from the winter months of November to Feb, when it is the thickest. This therefore breaks the myth that a large number of respiratory cases are common only in the metropolitan cities where the air quality is poor because of pollution.
It is imperative to address the serious changes in the temperature of India and environmental threat so that the associated impacts on public well-being are minimized. The occurrence of thick haze and fog is not unique to this part of the world and certainly not a recent phenomenon over India but the intensity, persistence, the widespread nature and the dangerous impact of the winter haze and fog over the Indo Gangetic plains is overwhelming. The exorbitant impact of this haze cover on public life makes it almost equivalent to a natural hazard.
Photo by NASA.