Crop-burning season in northwestern India •

Crop-burning season in northwestern India

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features fire activity and thick smoke during crop-burning season in northwestern India. 

“When the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this natural-color image on November 1, 2022, a plume of smoke curled from northeastern Pakistan to the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh,” says NASA.

“Many farmers, particularly in the states of Punjab and Haryana, use fire as a fast, cheap way to clean up and fertilize fields before planting winter crops. However, a surge of smoke in the heart of the densely populated Indo-Gangetic Plain often contributes to a sharp deterioration of air quality across the region, including in the capital city of Delhi.”

Smoke from crop burning mixes with other forms of air pollution in the city. On November 1, 2022, the air quality index in Delhi reached a “severe category” of 424, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. 

“Geography and weather also exacerbate the region’s air quality problems. Temperature inversions are common in November and December as air rolls off the Tibetan Plateau and mixes with smoky air from the Indo-Gangetic plain,” says NASA.

“An inversion can function like a lid, with the warm air trapping pollutants near the surface and helping hem pollutants in between the Himalayan Mountains to the north and the Vindhya Mountains to the south.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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