Smoke from Indochina fires over China
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Smoke from Indochina fires over China

March 8, 2012
Clouds, smoke and haze covered the skies of China on March 3, 2012 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead and captured this true-color image.

Most of China, the country at the top of the image, is shrouded in bright-white cloud. In the top left, a break in cloud cover gives way to a nearly-clear shot of the tan and green landscape beneath. Just south of this, another break in the clouds shows a very different scene - a shroud of thick gray smoke and haze obscures much of the landscape from view.

Moving southward, this thick gray pall also hangs over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The region is also speckled with red dots, each of which represents a thermal “hot spot”, or an area where the MODIS instrument has detected that the temperature is higher than background. In this area, in this time of year, and accompanied by the rivers of smoke, these hotspots represent the burning of biomass.

The air quality in this region is often quite poor for many reasons, including automobile use, industrial pollution and natural air-inversion events. The biomass burning season across Indochina, which is an annual event of large proportion, adds significantly to the atmospheric pollution load.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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