As dense fog has been affecting normal life in Kashmir for the past 5 days, experts and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) data suggests that conditions favourable for fog have increased after the floods of September 2014.
Suspension of particles in the atmosphere is one of the reasons causing fog, say experts.
In December 2014 – three months after Kashmir witnessed its worst-ever deluge – the summer capital Srinagar was engulfed in a thick fog for 9 days. This as per IMD data is the highest number of fog days Srinagar has witnessed since December 2008.
“Ever since I took over the affairs at the MeT Department in 2006, the flood year was the worst fog hit. However, this December is the second highest recorded fog hit. But intensity of fog this time is even stronger than that of December 2014,” Director MeT, Sonam Lotus, told Greater Kashmir.
As per IMD data, the first time thick fog was experienced in the last decade during December was in 2008 with 4 fog days experienced in Srinagar. From 2009 to 2013, there were no such days when thick fog was witnessed in the Valley.
“During last one decade Srinagar has been prone to conditions such as haze and mist but thick fog, such as the one experienced recently is a phenomenon which has evolved only post 2014 floods,” say MeT officials.
Even in 2017, Srinagar witnessed 7 fog days which had resulted in disruption of air traffic at Srinagar Airport.
“After the flood year, conditions favourable for fog formation have picked up. There are three main conditions that are being fulfilled to make fog engulf the low-lying parts of the Valley especially Srinagar and Budgam: The winds remaining calm, minimum temperature constantly remaining below 2 degrees Celsius and strong temperature inversion,” says Lotus.
Shakil Romshoo, Head of Department, Earth Sciences, Kashmir University explains: “In a normal process, temperature decreases with altitude, but in case of temperature inversion temperature increase with altitude. This temperature inversion develops a water vapour in which pollutants get trapped within the planetary boundary layer which causes the fog.”
Romshoo says that post 2014 floods, a lot of sedimentary matter has deposited all across the Valley, which down the years has been adding to the foggy conditions.
“The particulate matter in air for last 5 days in Kashmir has been much more than the normal standards, causing the fog,” he says. “A planetary boundary layer, which has come downwards, does not allow pollutants to escape from the Valley. These pollutants are trapped which raises the fog levels,” says Romshoo.