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For mountains and people
When most people think of air in the context of the environment, they probably think of air pollution – and that’s part of the picture. But air is a dynamic and delicate mix of chemicals in constant motion, flowing from place to place through atmospheric circulation systems.
For mountains and people
In the Hindu Kush Himalaya, air quality impacts the entire region through the summer monsoon and winter westerlies, which can transport pollution such as black carbon over long distances. That means the emissions from vehicles in a crowded city might impact farmers in remote parts of a neighboring country. Local air pollution is a regional problem.
Pollutants can intensify haze, which not only leads to health problems but can reduce crop yield from lack of sunlight. An increase in winter fog, traceable in part to pollutants from sources such as brick kilns and firewood burning, can lead to a cycle where sunlight is reduced, local temperatures drop and people burn more firewood to ward off the chill, sending more pollution into the air and intensifying the problem.
Greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants can also impact the temperature balance of the lower atmosphere. Evidence indicates that overall atmospheric temperature in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region has already increased. Air quality impacts the environment in ways that communities experience every day, scientists can quantify and track, and policymakers need to understand.
A clean brick sector is characterized by lower emissions, energyefficient technologies, and good working conditions free of child labour
News and features
The Atmosphere Initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) was established in 2013 as part of the Centre’s Atmosphere Regional Programme.
The 120,000 brick kilns scattered across South Asia release huge amounts of greenhouse gases and black carbon into the atmosphere. Commonly known as soot, black carbon is the second biggest global warming pollutant after carbon dioxide.
Video and science application
The application combines near real-time MODIS visible bands (RGB product), and AOD (Aerosol Optical Depth) products to generate an air quality index. Information from NASA's AERONET stations is also integrated into the system.