Dense haze completely obscured the North China Plain and the Bo Hai (a bay in the Yellow Sea) when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over on December 20, 2006. The thick brown haze seen here is most common in winter, when coal is burned to provide heat. The haze covers the normally distinctive cities and crop lands and seeps into mountain valleys to the north. A few small clouds float over the brown soup, and low clouds or fog sit under the haze near Beijing. China’s State Environmental Protection Administration reported that the air over Beijing was lightly polluted, the fourth designation on a seven-point scale for air quality where “heavily polluted” is the highest designation. To see twice-daily images of eastern China, please visit the MODIS Rapid Response web site.
Haze clouded the skies over eastern China in late November and December 2006. Pollution levels reached the highest category in the nation's environmental monitoring index in mid-November and spiked again in December.