A river of haze blew across eastern China, Japan and the Korean peninsula in early March, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on March 8 as it flew over the region.
China lies in the west, with heavy sediment pouring from the Yangtze River into the East China Sea. To the north, the Bohai Sea, which is also filled with tan sediment, is heavily covered with haze and cloud. The city of Beijing lies inland the northwest coast of the Bohai Sea, and is just off the upper left corner of this image. A broad, river-like band of tan and gray haze streams over South Korea and heads northeast over the Sea of Japan. An arc of haze curves around southern Japan.
The thick haze is likely composed of a variety of particulates, including dust, smoke from coal used widely in the region, wood smoke, and industrial pollution. On the day this image was captured, BeijingAir reported fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) readings at 337.0 and 387 micrograms per cubic liter. Readings above 25 per cubic meter is considered unsafe, while readings above 301 are considered “hazardous”. Earlier in the year, in mid-January, readings in Beijing were as high as 886 micrograms per cubic meter. The U.S. Standard for air quality is 15 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter.