Haze once again hugged the southern face of the Himalaya in early December 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on December 11, 2010. Dull gray haze hovers over northern India and Pakistan, and parts of Bangladesh. Over Nepal and China (Tibet), skies are clear, showing many of the region’s jewel-toned lakes.
The haze visible in this image likely results from a combination of agricultural fires, urban and industrial pollution, and a regional temperature inversion. Most of the time, air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the planet’s surface, and this configuration allows warm air to rise from the ground and disperse pollutants. In the wintertime, however, cold air frequently settles over northern India, trapping warmer air underneath. The temperature inversion traps pollutants along with warm air at the surface, contributing to the buildup of haze.