The Objective Orbiting Eye in the Sky
April 14, 2007 2:59 AM   Subscribe

Live, From Outer Space: rural fires [1, 2], The Haze in China [1 ,2, 3] and its movement, aerosols, and the brothers carbon monoxide [a photochemical smog agent] and carbon dioxide.
posted by trinarian (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
... i stumbled upon all of this trying to find a nice patch of grass somewhere in southern China where I could marvel at a blue sky and watch the weather change for May Day.
posted by trinarian at 3:01 AM on April 14, 2007

I'd never considered how much worse the air pollution was in central Ohio vs. South Carolina, other than that my car's windshield seemed dirtier and on sunny days I'd notice that the blue sky seemed hazier. SC is mostly clear and most of Ohio's pretty red. (Down in SC, the pollen was way worse, though, so it seemed just as dirty.)
posted by pax digita at 5:38 AM on April 14, 2007

This kind of stuff is really good to have around in bushfire season. I was very very glad to have Sentinel available this year.
posted by flabdablet at 6:03 AM on April 14, 2007

Awesome post - something I've been looking for. I used to live on the Japan Sea Coast, which experiences, every year at around this time, the Yellow Sand phenomenon. Dust is blown all the way from the Gobi Desert to Korea and then to Japan. The air looks murky (almost smoggy), and it's hard to breath. While this is something that has been happening for thousands of years, desertification and industrialization is making it worse.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:32 AM on April 14, 2007

earth observatory shows on up on mefi a lot, and for good reason. it's consisently one of the best space-imaging sites out there. if you're really witty, you can request the raw data packages from the satellite info sites and plot them yourself :-o
posted by virga at 7:22 AM on April 14, 2007

I know someone in China who says that when there's foreign dignitaries in Beijing or some sort of important event that the haze mysteriously vanishes, presumably from factories being told to shut down for a few days. Not sure if it's a rumor or not, though.
posted by zek at 7:30 AM on April 14, 2007

Japan sure is screwed.
A sidenote on the side bar: that's the most impressive tag list I've seen on Mefi!
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2007

I was taught back in school (as a smog tech, not a chemist or environmentalist or anything so noble) that photochemical smog is actually the confluence of oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and sunlight. The link you have there for "carbon monoxide" refers to it as a combustion byproduct.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. Because the gas results from combustion, it is a good indicator of urban and industrial pollution as well as fires.

It makes sense that you'd mistake CO for a smog agent, in that it is present in the combustion of HC (where we also get NOx from). But it seems to not be an agent itself.
posted by avriette at 8:15 AM on April 14, 2007

avriette: so carbon monoxide is just a symptom of smog and not a cause?
posted by trinarian at 9:32 AM on April 14, 2007

The interesting thing is where the smog is located: it's in the industrial areas, almost everywhere. This assumes that controls on emissions by industry will do more to curb pollution than voluntary compliance by individuals.

Not that voluntary compliance by individuals isn't a good thing, just that tighter controls on industry will produce more results faster.
posted by jrochest at 12:31 PM on April 14, 2007

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