A thick band of haze hung over the low-lying coastal basin of eastern China on September 17, 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture the same day. The smoggy blanket stretched from Beijing in the north to beyond Shanghai (hidden by clouds and haze in the lower right corner of the scene). The haze is especially thick just east of the Taihang Shan range that runs southward from the capital city along the western edge of the coastal plain. The haze is darker and fuzzier than the bright white clouds in this image. Also visible is thick, tan-colored sediment in the waters along the coastline.
The Beijing region of China is one of the world’s most densely populated areas, producing its share of urban and industrial smog. Beneath the haze, a scattering of small tan circles—cities—dot the green vegetation of the plain. Agricultural fires in the region may have added to the haze. Even though the amount of haze being generated at the time of the image might not have been above normal, weather conditions may have been responsible for keep the pollution trapped over the area. Typhoon Shanshan, located offshore to the east, may have been trapping the air over the region, preventing the haze from dispersing over the ocean. A similar situation occurred in the United States in the summer of 2002, when Hurricane Gustav off the Carolinas prevented hazy air in the Southeast from dispersing over the Atlantic Ocean, and then Tropical Storm Hannah in the Gulf of Mexico kept it from escaping to the south. Air quality across the South and Southeast was compromised for many days during the event.
A thick band of haze hung intermittently over eastern China in the fall of 2006. The haze likely resulted from urban and industrial pollution, agricultural fires, and weather patterns that trapped the pollutants in the region.
A nearly opaque plume of haze snaked through eastern China on October 20, 2007. The haze likely results from industrial and vehicular emissions as China struggles to balance economic growth with a healthy environment.