China's Air Pollution Is So Awful You Can See It From Space

NASA captures a 750-mile trail of haze on camera.
More

Just in case you'd gotten used to those now-ubiquitous photos of smog-choked Chinese cities, NASA has managed to up the ante with the image up above: yes, that's China's air pollution, as seen from orbit. 

The image was snapped by the space agency's Terra satellite on January 7th during the country's most recent spate of severe pollution. The bright white spots are clouds and fog. The wispy gray haze reaching from Beijing to Shanghai is polluted air. That's about 750 miles of smog which, as NASA notes, is about the distance from Boston to Raleigh, North Carolina. 

"On the day this natural-color image was acquired by Terra, ground-based sensors at U.S. embassies in Beijing and Shanghai reported PM2.5 measurements as high as 480 and 355 micrograms per cubic meter of air respectively," NASA writes. "The World Health Organization considers PM2.5 levels to be safe when they are below 25."

(h/t BloombergBusinessweek)

Jump to comments

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

Social Security is the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in China

Just In