John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Hazardous levels of air pollution are expected to persist in the coming days.
Wrap your mouth around the tailpipe of a diesel-powered dump truck and you can experience what Beijing felt yesterday, as the city issued a historic red alert for toxic air pollution.
The smog was so dense that locals (the ones who weren’t suffering asthma attacks) amused themselves by drawing outlines of buildings in photos of hazy skylines. And now NOAA’s done the same thing but on a grander scale, pinpointing Beijing as a red dot adrift in a vast sea of gray, choking pollution. This is what China looked like when the Suomi NPP satellite flew above on Monday:
Another view of the sinus-searing conditions comes from NASA’s OMPS Blog, which highlights the dense aerosols floating above Beijing. The city is represented as a small triangle inside a mucous green/yellow blob of foul air. This was at a time when airborne particulates were reportedly 10 times above the safe level; the smog is expected to remain the same or even worsen in the coming few days.