Virus Lockdowns Cut Pollution, Slowing Snowmelt in South Asia

The New York Times has published ‘”Virus Lockdowns Cut Pollution, Slowing Snowmelt in South Asia” addressing the runoff effects of pandemic-caused reduction in dust on snowpack.

Cleaner skies over South Asia that resulted from pandemic lockdowns last year likely affected the timing of snowmelt in the Indus River basin of Pakistan and India, researchers reported on Monday.

The lockdowns cut emissions of soot and other pollutants, as people drove less and the generation of electricity, largely from coal, was reduced. That meant less soot was deposited on snow, where it absorbs sunlight, emits heat and causes faster melting.

The cleaner snow in 2020 reflected more sunlight and did not melt as fast, the researchers said. In all, that delayed runoff into the Indus River of more than than one and a half cubic miles (3.3 million acre-feet) of melt water, they calculated, similar to the volume of some of the largest reservoirs in the United States.

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