Published on 29 March 2021
This image, acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on 28 March 2021, shows the valleys east of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu completely engulfed in smoke.
For the second time in 2021, a thick layer of smoke has blanketed Nepal, causing a severe deterioration of air quality in the region. As the thickness of the smoke and haze reached extreme levels, the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu closed and begun to divert flights because of poor visibility. According to multiple sources, the situation came about due to the dozens of fires that have been raging in the area for weeks, and were exacerbated by the absence of rain during that period. Anil Pokhrel, Chief Executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority of Nepal, declared that the number of wildfires has been unprecedented, and a special programme has been launched by the Nepalese government to manage the evolving situation.
Copernicus' Sentinel satellites provide free and open data that can be used to monitor fires and their impact on land, vegetation and air quality.