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Increasing Potential for Air Pollution over Megacity New Delhi: A Study Based on 2016 Diwali Episode

Category: Urban Air Quality

Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.11.0440
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T. Mukherjee, A. Asutosh, S.K. Pandey, L. Yang, P.P. Gogoi, A. Panwar, V. Vinoj

  • School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, Bhubaneswar 752050, India


Satellite based aerosol loading reveals higher pollution post Diwali over Delhi.
The expected change in PM2.5 (AOD) is ~20 to 40% (5%) due to festivities.
The 2016 Diwali episode enhanced (by a factor of 5) due to long range transport.
The northwestern region exerts a large impact on the air pollution episodes.
The surge in fires occurrence is increasing the potential for future pollution events.


Air pollution over megacity New Delhi has gained significant attention in the recent times. Local pollution along with advection from upwind sources, long range transport and also festivities (e.g., Diwali) involving large emissions due to burning of fire crackers all lead to high loading conditions over the city. In this study, we carry out an assessment of particulate pollutant event that coincided with the festival of Diwali during 2016 using multiple parameters related to particulate pollution from ground and satellite based measurements in relation to the observed climatology during the period 2000 to 2016. Our analysis reveals that 2016 severe air pollution episode was exacerbated by the long range transport of fine absorbing aerosols emanating from biomass/stubble burning in the adjacent states to the Northwest. Our study based on concentration weighted trajectory (CWT) analysis using PM2.5 mass concentration and AOD shows that the high loading conditions were related to trajectories that pass through North-West of NCT. During 2016, the period after Diwali also coincided with air mass traversing over large biomass burning areas. Our analysis on long term changes to the fire counts reveals that these events are increasing at an alarming rate of ~25% per year since 2000 with potential for high particulate pollution over downwind cities such as Delhi.


Urban air pollution Delhi Diwali PM2.5 Aerosols Biomass burning

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