Forecasting Unhealthy Air Quality for New Delhi

New Delhi skyline shrouded by air pollution

New Delhi skyline shrouded by air pollution

Challenge: 

The air pollution in New Delhi is extremely high and poses a tremendous health threat. This pollution can become so extreme that city officials close schools and restrict traffic on highly polluted days. A recent study in Lancet found that fine particulates and other pollutants may have caused more than 1 million deaths in India in 2017.

Solution: 

NCAR is leading an effort in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) to develop an air quality forecasting system that provides critical information for reducing people’s exposure to potentially unhealthy air. The new forecasting system has begun providing 72-hour forecasts of PM2.5. This system uses measurements of pollutants, computer modeling, and statistical techniques. It updates the forecast every 24 hours. Preliminary results indicate that it is accurately predicting day-to-day variability in PM2.5, giving officials and residents advance warning of unusually poor air quality.

Benefits: 

The system helps decision-makers mitigate the risk of air pollution in Delhi and surrounding regions. The technology may be adapted to provide air quality forecasts for other polluted areas in developing countries, as well as for cities in the United States.