ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Low visibility in Thimphu

If you are in Thimphu, you must have noticed that air visibility in the last couple of weeks is unusually low. I took the following photo at around 10 am last week. Nothing much has changed since then, even on warmer days when the sun is out. I am starting to miss the days when the Buddha Dordenma was clearly visible from almost anywhere in Thimphu.

I'm not sure if this is humidity, dust or smoke, or perhaps some combination of all three. I could not find any reference to this phenomena in any of the newspapers. I could not find any useful information (visibility, humidity) on NHSM's website.

The National Environment Commission website reports the daily air pollution PM10 index. In Thimphu it is currently at around 80 µg/m3, which is below the national standard of 100 µg/m3. This hints that pollution is not extraordinarily high. Also, the air is not brownish. (By the way, NEC's standards are quite permissive when compared to EU and US standards, but we'll leave that for another post.).

So what's causing this extraordinary haze? If you happen to have any information, do let us know.

P.S.: Thimphu's unique topography - a high-altitude city surrounded by mountains - together with the growing population and explosion in the number of cars, might spell a future air-pollution crisis, especially if the city is prone to thermal inversion.

Late morning in Thimphu