Extreme smog challenge of India intensified by increasing lower tropospheric stability

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Ritesh Gautam, Piyushkumar Patel, Manoj Singh, Tianjia Liu, Loretta Mickley, Hiren Jethva, Ruth DeFries


Extreme smog in India widely impacts air quality in late autumn and winter months. While the links between emissions and air quality are well-recognized, the association of smog and its intensification with climatic trends in the lower troposphere, where aerosol pollution and its radiative effects manifest, are not understood well. Here we use long-term satellite data to show a significant increase in aerosol exceedances over northern India, resulting in sustained atmospheric warming and surface cooling over the last two decades. We find several lines of evidence suggesting these aerosol radiative effects have induced a multidecadal (1980-2019) strengthening of lower tropospheric stability and an increase in relative humidity, leading to over fivefold increase in poor visibility days. Given this crucial aerosol-radiation-meteorological feedback driving the smog intensification, we anticipate results from this study will help inform mitigation strategies supporting stronger region-wide measures, which are critical for solving the smog challenge in India.




Atmospheric Sciences, Climate


Aerosols, India, Smog


Published: 2021-08-30 06:09

Last Updated: 2021-08-30 13:09


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
All data underlying this study are available in the public domain. The MODIS data used in this study are available via http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MYD04_L2.006 and CERES data are available via https://doi.org/10.5067/Aqua/CERES/SSF-FM3_L2.004A.

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