As you may recall, much of the once-habitable city of Harbin earlier this week was shut down by authorities as a result of the recent Airpocalypse shrouding it with smog and pollution. Now NASA has provided a satellite image of China’s northeastern area capturing Harbin’s massive pollution clouds on a whole different scale.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of northeastern China on October 21, 2013. The brightest areas are fog, which has a tinge of gray or yellow due to the air pollution. Other cloud-free areas have a pall of gray and brown smog that blots out the city and surrounding towns.
Some neighborhoods experienced concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) as high as 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. For comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality standards say PM2.5should remain below 35 micrograms per cubic meter. It is extremely rare for particulate levels to reach that high in the absence of a dust storm or forest fire.
Schools reopened and flights were resumed on Wednesday after three days of the heavy smog, according to SCMP.
Harbin officials are saying that much of the pollution was due to coal-fired heating and the burning of large amounts of straw due to the approaching winter.