In winter, Christchurch can suffer from severe air pollution because of the formation of an inversion layer – a blanket of cold air trapped close to the ground by a warmer layer above it. Smoke from domestic fires and emissions from cars enter the atmosphere, but there is no wind to carry them away. Similar problems in winter occur in the South Island centres of Alexandra, Timaru, Richmond and Nelson. In 2005 Christchurch’s local authority passed by-laws banning open fires, and was phasing out old log burners in favour of clean-burning models.
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Photograph by Mike Freeman
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