Satellite Photos Show the Appalling Extent of China’s Air Pollution

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China's terrible smog seen from space

NASA/NOAA

The city of Harbin, and much of northeastern China, experienced truly horrific air pollution earlier this week. There was so much smog, largely thanks to the burning of coal during the first cold days of the fall, that children were sent home from school, hospital admissions soared and highways were closed. Pictures from Harbin told the story—Chinese citizens, with surgical masks around their faces, disappearing in a white, ashy gloom. But you can’t really understand just how widespread China’s air pollution is until you see it from space. The above photo is from NASA Suomi-NPP satellite, captured on Oct. 21, shows eastern China cloaked in smog. And if China can’t cut down on coal combustion, it’s likely to get a lot worse.

(MORE: In China’s Polluted Cities, the Smog May Be Here to Stay)

4 comments
StephenLeviGuptill
StephenLeviGuptill

It's clear from this photo they are using Cloud Seeding to pull the smog out over the sea...

ZonkerHarris
ZonkerHarris

Photoshopped, you can tell by the pixels.

MushroomTomte
MushroomTomte

Your main science page, which contains the link to this and other articles, contains the subtitle "Smog virtually short down the Chinese city of Harbin earlier this week."  Really, Time, "short down?"  Are your copy editors on strike?

Katie62058541
Katie62058541

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