Clouds of pollution pictured from space, Fresh Scientist

By Maggie McKee

(Photo&colon, MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA)

Haze and dust from industrial activity blanket low-lying regions of eastern China and northern India, two latest satellite pics expose.

The pictures, demonstrating the extent of pollution, were captured by two NASA satellites – Aqua and Terra – using an muziekinstrument called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).

Aqua, which captures pics te the afternoon, took the picture of Eastern China on 17 November, when a gray haze draped overheen the coastal plain around the Yellow Sea and spilled out overheen the Yellow Sea (centre right of photo).


The smog is most likely churned out by the country’s coal-fuelled power plants, smoke from fireplaces te individual homes, and voertuig harass and pollution from nearby Beijing and Tianjin. “This type of haze event is common ter this part of China,” says Jon Ranson, Terra project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center ter Greenbelt, Maryland, US.

Hazy Himalayas

(Photo&colon, Jesse Allen/MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA)

Terra, which captures pictures te the morning, snapped the picture of haze along the foothills of the Himalayan mountains ter northern India on 15 November. The haze spreads from the southern Bay of Bengal to the mouth of the Ganges Sea (centre right of picture). But it clears overheen the Tibetan Plateau to the north of the Himalayas (top of pic).

“The Himalayas are certainly acting spil a barrier to keep the smoke and pollution te that particular region,” Ranson told Fresh Scientist. “The smoke and other pollutants back up against the mountains.”

Terra and Aqua, launched ter 1999 and 2002, are “part of NASA’s programme to understand the Earth spil a system”, says Ranson. “We’re making measurements of the atmosphere and the ground and their switches and attempting to understand the factors causing those switches.”

Ter fact, NASA signed an agreement on Thursday to share gegevens from its Earth-observation satellites with the World Conservation Union – the world’s largest environmental skill network.

The gegevens will be made available to the union’s 1000 member organisations – which include government agencies ter both developed and developing countries – to aid environmental policy decisions. It could also be used to ordner the world’s 100,000 protected areas, many of which are difficult to access.

“This chance for NASA to help advance conservation efforts globally reinforces our vision to use our unique vantage from space to improve life here on Earth,” says NASA’s deputy associate administrator for science, Ghassem Asrar.

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