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Haze over China

Published by Matt on Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:07 pm via: source
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Thick haze and fog settled over much of China on October 28, 2009. The thickest of the gray-brown haze conforms to the low-lying contours of the Yellow River Valley and the western half of the North China Plain near the Luliang Mountains in this photo-like image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Haze over China. Credit: NASA

Haze over China. Credit: NASA

A temperature inversion may be responsible for the build up of pollution over eastern China. Normally, air cools with altitude, but occasionally, a layer of cool air will be trapped beneath a layer of warm air. Since the cool air is more dense than the air above it, the two layers don’t mix and pollutants build up in the cool air near Earth’s surface. The condition is called a temperature inversion, and it can last for days if winds are calm. Temperature inversions develop most often during the winter. Long cool nights chill the ground. The cold land cools the air nearest the ground, leaving the air above warm. If winds are calm, the two layers of air do not mix, and a temperature inversion develops.

The large image provided above is at MODIS’s maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel. The image is available in additional resolutions from the MODIS Rapid Response System.

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