Monitoring the air quality in the Himalaya: second SWASDAG Field Campaign

From the 17th to 22nd of March a GAS Team will develop a new Sustainable WAter Security through the Development of Artificial Glaciers (SWASDAG) field campaign in the Himalayas, specifically in Leh region. The campaign is led by Associated Senior Lecturer, Anshuman Bhardwaj, Post-Doctoral Scholar Lydia Sam, and PhD student Thasshwin Mathanlal, and will be also supported by representatives of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Professor Al. Ramanathan and PhD student Mohd Soheb.

SWASDAG is an international project proposed by GAS funded by the Swedish Council for Scientific Research (Vetenskapsrådet), aimed to the installation of artificial glaciers in the region of Ladakh, India, in order to palliate the water shortage suffered by the inhabitants of the area.

The main goal of the current campaign is, in the words of Anshuman, “install and start up five smart weather stations in five different places of Leh city and near artificial icestupa glaciers locations to gather meteorological data.” The data will be stored and regularly collected by the local partners.

The new environmental stations are an improved, compact, version of previous prototypes developed by GAS and include a very complete set of scientific instruments and atmospheric sensors such as a High Accuracy Barometer and Altimeter, a GPS, a Real Time Clock, an accelerometer and compass, a High Accuracy temperature / Humidity sensor, an Infrared Temperature Sensor / Camera, a soil moisture and a high temperature probes, a multichannel Gas sensor to measure CH4, NO2, H2, NH3, O2, CO and a multi-channel digital light sensor to measure UV index and detect UV-light, visible light and infrared light. Last December 15th the station prototype was presented and tested in an Arduino’s Workshop with a group of Luleå University of Technology students who gave ideas to improve the design of the instrument.

This kind of scientific installation is very unique in the Himalayas region. The collected data will be fundamental not only in terms of glaciers retreat research but also to relate the information with environmental problems as pollution. With a more accurate and comprehensive environmental data set we can capture the local variability of the weather. The new stations will also monitor the pollution in these remote environments at different elevations. These new measurements, will allow to evaluate the role of the increasing global pollution and black carbon concentration on the rapid melting of natural glaciers in the region.

A SWASDAG Field Campaign meteorological station.
Copyright: GAS