Atmospheric Pollution In Hindu Kush Himalaya Region

Jan 11th, 2013 | By | Category: Biomass, Carbon, Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Development and Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Green House Gas Emissions, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Land, Lessons, News, Pollution, Publication, Research, Vulnerability, Waste, Water, Weather, Wind energy

032511_1626_BlackandWhi1.pngMRD: This paper presents a detailed review of atmospheric pollution observed in the Hindu Kush–Himalaya (HKH) region and its implications for regional climate. Data from in situ measurements made at high-altitude stations in the HKH region, observations from satellitebased instruments, and global climate modeling study results are discussed.

Experimental observations discussed include both atmospheric measurements and data from snow and ice core sampling from different glaciers in the HKH region. The paper focuses on the atmospheric brown cloud loadings over the Himalayas, particularly black carbon (BC) and ozone, which have links to regional climate and air-pollution– related impacts. Studies show elevated levels of anthropogenic ozone and BC over the Himalayas during the premonsoon season with concentrations sometimes similar to those observed over an average urban environment.

The elevated concentration observed over the Himalayas is thought to come from the lowlands, especially the highly populated areas of the Indo-Gangetic Plains. The implications of high BC loading in the Himalayan atmosphere as well as elevated BC deposition on snow and ice surfaces for regional climate, hydrological cycle, and glacial melt are discussed.


On average, air pollution levels in the HKH region are significantly lower than those observed in urban and industrialized areas of South Asia. However, especially during the South Asian dry season, this very sensitive region can be systematically affected by transport of anthropogenic climate-altering pollutants like BC and O3. This is clearly reflected by the presence of pollutants in the
HKH cryosphere as well as by the atmospheric mass concentration of aerosols, which are more elevated than they are pristine locations in Antarctica, the Arctic, or the remote marine boundary layer (see Hyvarinen et al 2009; Decesari et al…

Keywords: Black carbon; ozone; brown cloud; air pollution; climate change; Hindu Kush–Himalaya.

Reviewed by the Editors: September 2012
Accepted: September 2012

Author(s): Paolo Bonasoni , Paolo Cristofanelli , Angela Marinoni , Elisa Vuillermoz , and Bhupesh Adhikary
Source: Mountain Research and Development, 32(4):468-479. 2012.
Published By: International Mountain Society

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