The NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer’s aqua-satellite discovered another cause of New Delhi extreme air pollution.
Every year, the farmers of the region of Punjab at the north of Delhi, burn between seven and eight million tons of plant debris from its rice farms in order to prepare their fields for the new seeding. The fires are so intense that they are visible on satellite photos (the red dots is where the burning was taking place).
The plumes of smoke that rise from the fires are composed of dust and particulate air pollutants. With the wind and the meteorological conditions, all these smoke and pollutants move from Punjab to New Delhi, which contribute to the bad air quality of the city. Of course, the Punjab fires don’t explain by themselves all the air pollution in New Delhi (they occur only in May and November, when Punjab farmers rotate between crops) but they are one component of the problem.
It highlight that air pollution is a problem that need to be handled globally and not only at the scale of a city. People and government from different regions and areas need to work together to beat air pollution.