Association of retreating monsoon and extreme air pollution in a megacity

S.B. Sobhana , Gufran Beig , Aditi Rathod , Suvarna Tikle , Sujit Maji


Received September 28, 2020,Revised , Accepted January 05, 2021, Available online January 29, 2021

Volume 33,2021,Pages 97-104

The world's top ranked mega city Delhi is known for deteriorated air quality. However, the analysis of air pollution data of 5 years (2014–2018) reveals that years 2016 and 2017, which were marked by an unusual delayed withdrawal of monsoon, witnessed an unprecedented extreme levels of toxic PM2.5 particles (≤2.5 µm in diameter) touching a peak level of 760 µg/m3 (24 hr average), immediately after the monsoon retreat, surpassing WHO standards by 30 time and Indian national standards by 12 times, jeopardising lives of its citizens. However, the normal monsoon withdrawal years do not show such extreme levels of pollution. The high resolution WRF-Chem model along with meteorological data are used in this work to understand that how the delayed monsoon withdrawal and associated vagarious anti-cyclonic circulation resulted in trapping externally generated pollutants ceaselessly under colder conditions, leading to historic air quality crisis in landlocked mega city in these selected years. The sensitivity analysis confirmed that when WRF-chem model forced the climatology of normal monsoon year (2015) to simulate the pollution scenario of 2016 and 2017 for the above time period, the crisis subsided. Present findings suggest that such unusual monsoon patterns are on the hook to spur extreme pollution events in recent time.

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