Mid-January 2013 air quality proved to be dangerous to the health of Beijing residents and those of many other cities in China. Authorities warned people to stay indoors as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. Factories were government-ordered to scale back emissions. According to news reports, hospitals experienced more than 20 to 30 percent increase in patients complaining of respiratory issues.
According to NASA Earth Observatory, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these natural-color images of northeastern China on January 14 (top) and January 3, 2013. The top image shows extensive haze, low clouds, and fog over the region. The brightest areas tend to be clouds or fog, which have a tinge of gray or yellow from the air pollution. Other cloud-free areas have a pall of gray and brown smog that mostly blots out the cities below. In areas where the ground is visible, some of the landscape is covered with lingering snow from storms in recent weeks. (Snow is more prominent in the January 3 image.)