New research from Harvard University finds that a government policy that delayed rice planting in northwest India may have had an unintended consequence for air quality in the region.
New research from Harvard University finds that a government policy that delayed rice planting in northwest India may have had an unintended consequence for air quality in the region. The policy, which was first adopted in 2008, required farmers to push back the sowing of rice to take advantage of monsoon rains and decrease the reliance on groundwater-fed irrigation systems.
As a result, farmers in northwest India began to increasingly rely on fire to quickly clear fields in preparation for the next planting season. The seemingly small shift in the planting season had a cascading effect that delayed the fire season by about two weeks and exacerbated air pollution in northern India, including in the megacity of New Delhi and in the cities of Bathinda (Punjab) and Jind (Haryana).
The research was published in JGR Atmospheres.
The research was a collaboration between Harvard, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Environmental Defense Fund, the University of Michigan, the Public Health Foundation of India, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Columbia University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Read more at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Image: Smoke and haze in northern India along with agricultural fires mainly in the state of Punjab on November 6, 2016. The active fire hotspots, outlined in red, are detected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor aboard NASA/NOAA's Suomi-NPP satellite. (Credit: NASA Worldview)