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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1061
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1061
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Nov 2018

Research article | 13 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

What caused the extreme CO concentrations during the 2017 high pollution episode in India?

Iris N. Dekker1,2, Sander Houweling1,3, Sudhanshu Pandey1,2,3, Maarten Krol1,2,4, Thomas Röckmann2, Tobias Borsdorff1, Jochen Landgraf1, and Ilse Aben1 Iris N. Dekker et al.
  • 1SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht, 3584 CC, the Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CA, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, the Netherlands
  • 4Department of Meteorology and Air Quality, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, 6708 PB, the Netherlands

Abstract. The TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), launched 13 October 2017, measures carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere since early November 2017. In the first measurements, TROPOMI was able to measure CO concentrations of the high pollution event in India of November 2017. In this paper we studied the extent of the pollution in India, comparing the TROPOMI CO with modelled data from the Weather Research and Forecast model (WRF) to identify the most important sources contributing to the high pollution, both at ground-level and in the total column. We investigated the period between 11 and 19 November 2017. We found that residential and commercial combustion was a much more important source of CO pollution than the post-monsoon crop burning during this period, which is in contrast to what media suggested and some studies on aerosol emissions found. Also, the high pollution was not limited to Delhi and its direct neighbourhood but the accumulation of pollution extended over the whole Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) due to the unfavourable weather conditions in combination with extensive emissions. From the TROPOMI data and WRF simulations, we observed a build-up of CO during 11–14 November and a decline in CO after the 15th of November. The meteorological situation, characterized by low wind speeds and shallow atmospheric boundary layers, was most likely the primary explanation for the temporal accumulation and subsequent dispersion of regionally emitted CO in the atmosphere, emphasizing the important role of atmospheric dynamics. Due to its rapidly growing population and economy, India is expected to encounter similar pollution events more often in future post-monsoon and winter seasons unless significant policy measures are taken to reduce residential and commercial emissions.

Iris N. Dekker et al.
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Iris N. Dekker et al.
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Short summary
During November 2017, very high pollution levels were measured in the northern part of India. In this study satellite (TROPOMI) data and model (WRF) data on carbon monoxide (CO) are studied to investigate the main sources of the CO pollution over the Indo-Gangetic Plain. We found that residential and commercial combustion was a much more important source of CO than the post-monsoon crop burning during this period. Meteorology was found important in the accumulation and ventilation of CO.
During November 2017, very high pollution levels were measured in the northern part of India. In...
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