Quantifying the influence of agricultural fires in northwest India on urban air pollution in Delhi, India

Since at least the 1980s, many farmers in northwest India have switched to mechanized combine harvesting to boost efficiency. This harvesting technique leaves abundant crop residue on the fields, which farmers typically burn to prepare their fields for subsequent planting. A key question is to what extent the large quantity of smoke emitted by these fires contributes to the already severe pollution in Delhi and across other parts of the heavily populated Indo-Gangetic Plain located downwind of the fires. Using a combination of observed and modeled variables, including surface measurements of PM2.5, we quantify the magnitude of the influence of agricultural fire emissions on surface air pollution in Delhi.

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