BABU RAM SHARMA
Atmospheric Pollution and Himalayas
The Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau are referred as the Third Pole (TP). The Himalayas are a massive about 2,500-kilometres arc-shaped stretch of lofty mountains with an average elevation over 4000 m extending across Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. This third pole region is the home to about 1,000,000 km2 of glaciers, containing the largest volumes of ice outside the polar regions, and the origin of 10 largest rivers of Asia, making it the “Water Tower of Asia.”
Due to the high altitude and larger area, the region plays a significant role in Earth's climate system and water cycle with unique and complex interaction of atmospheric, cryospheric, hydrological, geological and environmental process. However, the water tower of Asia is now in danger due to rapid warming and noted for its higher rates of glacier melt, and the associated hydrological shifts that affect water supplies over 1.4 billion people in Asia and contribute to global sea-level rise.
Studies shows that the atmospheric pollutants contribute to climatic and cryospheric changes through their effects on solar radiation and the albedos of snow and ice surfaces. The atmospheric pollution, climate change and cryospheric changes are closely related and necessary to be investigated in a coupled and integrated framework is our prime interest. The air quality impacts the entire region through the summer monsoon and winter westerlies, which can transport pollution such as black carbon and other aerosols over long distances. The Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) are sensitive to climate change. The air pollutants originating within and near the HKH region magnify the effects of greenhouse gases and accelerate the melting of the cryosphere through the deposition of black carbon and dust that effect the circulation of the monsoon, and the distribution of rainfall over Asia. Emission sources in this region also vary in different countries, in terms of magnitude as well as source factors and need to be investigated separately.
Our interest is on five primary pollutants (CO, NOx, SO2, BC, and PM2.5). Different pollutants may be emitted by the same source, while many of them are chemically transformed in the atmosphere, forming secondary pollutants, such as secondary aerosols (both organic and inorganic, nitrates and sulphates) and tropospheric O3. In addition, the HKH receives trans-boundary pollution from other parts of Asia. The air pollution in this region not only effect human health, but also the climate, the cryosphere, monsoon patterns, water availability, and agriculture product. With its unique geographic and atmospheric structure, the TP play an important role in regional climate. The basic atmospheric and land, thermal and dynamic characteristics over the TP, as well as their relationships with the Asian monsoon based on recently available datasets, are the important subject of our research.
• The study of tropospheric ozone change driven by climate change across the Third Pole region.
• Study of the potential radiative effect of Black Carbon (BC) over the southern part Himalayan region.
• Study of the contribution of transboundary pollution to total loading of atmospheric pollution in the TP region.
The TP region is fresh water tower of Asia. To protect it is our responsibility. The main issues of air pollution in this region is a transboundary issue and has impacts on the region-wide weather, climate, and agriculture, as well as socioeconomic sectors. Regional coordination and collaboration is important to enhance the mitigation at the local and national and regional levels.