The concentration of the pollution levels gets affected by geography. There entail numerous factors which influence the concentration of the pollution.

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Factors affecting the pollution concentration

The excessive pollution concentration can have massive devastation in several sectors. The wide array of the influence factors upon the pollution concentration in accordance to the geography have been listed below:

1. Emissions

The emission level of the pollutants either from the vehicles or the industries and the factories rises. It increases the pollution concentration associated with the air, water, land, and noise. 

Although the living organisms survive at a lower concentration, it critically creates detrimental effects on their overall performance. It may result in the long-term persistence of the pollutants in their bodies.

2. Chemical transformations

Multiple chemicals are persistent in the atmosphere. The piling of many substances can undoubtedly increase the concentration of the pollutants, creating severe effects on the many sectors entailing human lives. 

Since the chemicals react in the open atmosphere in the presence of oxygen, it alters the air quality based on the various locations.

3. Weather

Weather can be inferred as the crucial factor that negatively influences the pollutant concentration by geographic location. 

Since the climate varies according to the area, the albedo, precipitation in rainfall, wind, and the atmosphere’s temperature can alter the pollutant concentration. 

High wind turbulence may sweep away the pollutants from one location to another through dispersion and thus, results in the pollutants at a lower concentration.

The rainfall can absorb the contaminants and wash the water-soluble impurities depending upon the source of the pollutants. 

Upon the rise in the air temperature, it’s sure to speed up the chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Thus, it can make pollutants concentration rise fall no matter what the other factors get persistent over there.

GIS map showing yellow dust over Korea and Japan - geography affecting pollution
Yellow dust looming over Korea and sea over Japan | Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Transport of the pollutants

Long-Range Atmospheric transport, abbreviated by LRAT, usually refers to the transport of the pollutants up to several meters or may reach even the kilometers as a severe cause of the wind turbulence or maybe rainfall. 

Since during long-range atmospheric transport, the air pollutants get traveled from one geographic location to another, it may alter the concentration of the air pollutants. 

In some areas, long-range atmospheric transport may speed uprising, while some possess low depending on the number of contaminants the weather can transport. Such a process occurs due to both natural and anthropogenic-induced activities. 

Let us consider one best example: During the 1980s, roughly 90% of the dust induced from the Chinese desert was very controversial and accepted as a dire international issue. It had traveled several kilometers of dust from China to other nations.

In concern to the geographical factors of change in pollution concentration, we can categorize it under the two heading, which entails:

  • The topography includes mountains and obstructions.
  • The location of the source comprises the secondary pollutants.

Might someone be wondering on do geography affects the concentration of pollution levels? It does matter. The mountain ranges and the coastlines can have drastic alterations in the pollution concentration. 

The mountains block the horizontal transport of the pollutants and the smog while it may cause diversion of the contaminants to other directions. It can be a huge cause to alter the pollution concentration.

Once the wind gets strong, it may pass the pollutants over the mountains. But the crucial aspect required for such a process is the strong wind. 

The coastal areas with mountain ranges in the inland area may possess considerable air pollution during the day, basically when the sea breezes push out the pollutants towards the land area.

Likewise, there may be a lower concentration of contaminants in the evening since the land breezes push the air pollutants towards the ocean. 

During the summer, the air upon heating rises and disperse the pollution from the upper part of the troposphere in urban regions. There is an increment in the sunlight, causing the harmful ozone at the ground level. 

When the ozone starts creating impact in the ground level, it passes the pollutants from the ground to the troposphere through the passing of several mediums. 

As the intensity of the sunlight varies according to the location, it can cause tremendous variation in the production of the ozone rate. 

Especially when the sunlight intensity gets dazzling during the summer season, there is a low concentration of the primary pollutants. Because during such periods, ozone does get a rise at the maximum.

Since it’s for sure that the transportation facilities increase in the urban area rather than the rural, the depots of the public transportation such as airports, bus stops, ports can create a rise in the air and noise pollution. 

It increases the level of pollutants concentration. For instance, Italian port areas recorded a high concentration of NO2 with a decrement in PM8 in Japan, insisting attention to the pollution varies according to the topography (location).

Pollutants based on the geographic location

little girl cooking on firewoods - Geography affecting Pollution
In developing countries, village water pollution is their livelihood | Photo by Amienev

The more is the proximity to the water bodies; the more is the chance of airflow in the rivers and the oceans. It creates an alteration in the concentration of the pollutants that cause the pollution. 

Concerning the distribution of the contaminants throughout the globe, several findings consisted of air pollutants such as PM10, PM2.5, NO2, and SO2 create effects.

Many climate changes and pollution projections using modeling software have revealed that in the southern and the central-eastern part of Europe, there is a vast concentration of black smoke and PM10 and SO2 in the eastern region. 

Additionally, the concentration of the PM2.5 looks pretty huge in the east of and the Midwest US. Apart from these, it recorded the attention of the PM2.5 high in the southern part of California as well.

It is raised from the geographical variation and the alteration of the concentration of the pollutant with geographic location. 

In recent days, mainly the developed countries, Japan, Hongkong, rather than the developing and the under-developed countries, are facing light pollution.

It not only creates a detrimental hamper on human lives but can also have detrimental effects on the wildlife and the vegetation. To indoor air pollution, various countries have been seriously affected.

We can take Nepal into account. Since Nepal is considered a low-income country, fossil fuel is still prevalent in most rural Nepal. The burning of fossil fuels under indoor air pollution is the top fourth risk factor in human death. 

Because of the rural regions, indoor air pollution looks pretty high compared to urban areas, where indoor air pollution seems low. 

These all reflect and indicate how geographical barriers support the increased concentration of pollutants.

Because of the blockage in contaminants passing, pollutants concentration varies in Manang and Mustang of Nepal, which lies in the leeward of the high mountain acting as a geographic barrier. 

Thus, it seems difficult to transportation and dispersion the contaminants. It has critically halted the long-range atmospheric transport as well.


The amount and concentration of the contaminants vary under the topography and the geographic location. 

The concentration of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and SO2 peaked in most countries, especially the United States and Japan.

Since long-range atmospheric transport has become a dire issue in the present context, through the transboundary coordination between the countries, the nations must carry and initiate a reliable step to halt the issues regarding the transport of pollutants and air pollution. 

The contaminants are transported to several kilometers, including many areas, dispersing the heavy rainfall.

The stakeholders, climate change researchers, scientists, and the concerned departments need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, thereby driving towards alternative energy approaches. 

Once the alternative solution is tracked out concerning the pollution, it creates a safer environment and ensures sustainability for a prolonged period.

(Last Updated on January 4, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Kalpana Ghimire holds a post-graduate degree in Environmental Science from Nepal. She possesses numerous research experiences working in water pollution, community forestry, environment conservation status, and wildlife ecology. She was an internee in the Department of Environment (EIA monitoring and auditing section) under the Government of Nepal. Kalpana Ghimire is an avid traveler, an enthusiastic wildlife researcher, and has a huge passion for working in the environment sector. She loves far traveling to the natural areas, conducting field wildlife research and reading the novels.