Dense fog lingers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain  • Earth.com

Dense fog lingers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain 

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features thick fog lingering over the Indo-Gangetic Plain, a region that is known for being one of the world’s most fertile and densely populated areas. 

Stretching approximately 2,500 kilometers from Pakistan across northern India into Bangladesh, this expansive plain is formed by the basins of three major river systems: the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra.

“December and January often bring morning fog to the Indo-Gangetic Plain… Winter 2023-2024 followed the pattern. From December 24, 2023, through January 18, 2024, large patches of the low, white clouds blanketed the region,” said NASA.

“The MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image on the morning of January 15, 2024, as dense fog stretched from Islamabad, Pakistan, to Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

“Heat islands around some cities – including Delhi, Agra, Meerut, and Rohtak – appear to have punched holes in the fog, revealing the urban landscape below.”

The most common type of fog that occurs in this region is classified as radiation fog. Most prevalent during the fall and winter, radiation fog forms overnight when air near the ground is cold and stable. 

“Though radiation fog hugs the ground and traces basins, valleys, and bodies of water in ways that appear beautiful and tranquil from above, it can cause chaos for transportation systems on the ground,” said NASA.

“Fog has caused widespread flight and train delays and cancellations in the region, according to Reuters. One analysis of aviation safety found that fog causes more accidents than any type of weather hazard except for high winds.”

Fog-related traffic accidents have also surged in recent weeks. The Times of India reported that more than 14,000 traffic deaths and 15,000 serious injuries could be attributed to fog in 2022.

“Several teams of scientists, using satellite data, have observed increases in the frequency, persistence, and intensity of fog outbreaks in recent decades across the Indo-Gangetic Plain – trends seen in few other parts of the world,” said NASA.

“An increase in aerosol pollution associated with urbanization is one potential culprit driving the change, according to one team of researchers from the University of East Anglia and University of Leeds.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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