Anatomy of Extreme Pollution Event in a Megacity, Delhi

Speaker: Gufran Beig

Dr. Gufran Beig, Project Director, System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India; Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences; World Meteorological Organization Norbert Gerbier-Mumm International Award

Abstract: Megacities are engines of growing pollution. Delhi is cursed by its geography to be prone to various meteorological phenomena acting in different times of the year that contribute to high pollution levels. Climate change is poised to worsen air quality and by the end of the century, more than half of the world’s population will be exposed to increasingly stagnant atmospheric conditions, with the tropics and subtropics bearing the brunt of the poor air quality. India’s capital, Delhi, is reported to be one of the megacities in the world that are worst affected by asthma. Delhi experienced an environmental emergency in early November 2017 when levels of toxic PM2.5 particles surpassed WHO guidelines by 25 times for a prolonged period of time (a week). In this talk, we will demonstrate the role that monsoon dynamics played in linking and mixing dust emitted from a large, natural dust storm, 3000km away in the Middle East, with smoke from agriculture fires in northwest India. Understanding the multi-scale nature of such events is important for improving our abilities to forecast these events and developing effective air quality management strategies.

Sponsored by China Project, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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