Skies over China have darkened in the past five decades, thanks to a nine-fold increase fossil-fuel emissions. In January 2006, Yun Qian and collaborators reported this finding in Geophysical Research Letters. According to the Associated Press, Qian stated that pollution absorbs and reflects sunlight, allowing less of it to reach China’s urban areas.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite captured this image on January 27, 2006. In this image, a thick plume of smog makes its way across the Yellow Sea towards Korea. To the east, cloud cover can be discerned by its bright white appearance, compared to the pollution’s dingy gray.
This true-color image over eastern China was acquired on October 16, 2002. The scene reveals a thick pall of smoke and haze (gray) filling the skies overhead. Smog fills the valleys and courses around the contours of the terrain in China’s hilly and mountainous regions. The higher elevations are less obscured by the smog than the lower-lying plains and valleys in the surrounding countryside.