2013 Northeastern China smog

2013 Northeastern China smog

Smog (grey) and fog (white) cloak northeast China on 21 October 2013.
Date 21–25 October 2013
Location Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning Provinces of China
None reported

A dense wave of smog began in Northeast China, especially in major cities including Harbin, Changchun and Shenyang, as well as the surrounding Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces on 20 October 2013. Unseasonably warm temperatures with very little wind across northeastern China coincided with the initiation of Northeast China's coal-powered municipal heating system. Record densities of fine particulates were measured in the city.

In Harbin, the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter rose to 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, worse than Beijing's historic highs. Visibility dropped to 50 metres (160 ft) and authorities grounded flights and closed more than 2,000 schools.[1]

In Changchun, air pollution recorded at an all-time high and the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter rose to 845 micrograms per cubic metre on 22 October 2013.[2]

The smog eased on 25 October 2013 and had completely dissipated by the 28th due to a cold front that had moved in from Russia.


Ddetail showing position of Harbin in the haze (NASA)
Detail showing position of Harbin in the haze (NASA)

Officials blamed the dense pollution on lack of wind, burning of crop waste in farmers' fields, and 20 October[3] start-up of Harbin's coal-powered district heating system.[4] Harbin lies in the north of China where winter temperatures can drop to −40 °C (−40 °F), necessitating a six-month heating season.[5]

Air pollution in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to China's leadership.[6] Particulates in the air can adversely affect human health and also have impacts on climate and precipitation. Pollution from the burning of coal has reduced life expectancies by 5.5 years in the north of China, as a result of heart and lung diseases.[7] According to the National Environmental Analysis released by Tsinghua University and The Asian Development Bank in January 2013, 7 of 10 most air polluted cities in the world are located in China, including Taiyuan, Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Jinan and Shijiazhuang.[8] As air pollution in China is at an all-time high, several northern cities are among one of the most polluted cities and has one of the worst air quality in China. Reporting on China's airpocalypse has been accompanied by what seems like a monochromatic slideshow of the country's several cities smothered in thick smog. According to a survey made by "Global voices China" in February 2013, China's 10 most polluted cities on the blacklist includes major Chinese cities like Beijing, Jinan, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, and 6 other prefectural cities all in Hebei Province.[9] These cities are all situated in traditional geographic subdivision of North China.


Smog in Harbin, China in December 2012

All highways in the surrounding Heilongjiang province were closed.[10] In Harbin, all primary and middle schools and the airport were closed for three days.[11][12]

Hospitals reported a 23 percent increase in admissions for respiratory problems.[13]

Visibility was reduced to below 50 m (160 ft) in parts of Harbin, and below 500 m (1,600 ft) in most of the neighboring Jilin province.[14] On Fa Yuen Street in Harbin, visibility of less than 5 m (16 ft) was reported.[3]

In Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, PM2.5 level rose to 845 on 22:00 p.m., October 22, 2013.[2] Visibility of less than 50 m (160 ft) was also reported, but Changchun education bureau refused to close the school and was criticized by parents of the students and pubilc.[15] Other cities in the surrounding Jilin province, including Jilin, Songyuan and Fuyu, ordered to close the schools on October 22.[15]

Daily particulate levels of more than 40 times the World Health Organization recommended maximum level were reported in parts of Harbin municipality.[16] The smog remained as of 23 October, when "almost all monitoring stations in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces reported readings above 200 [µg/m³] for PM2.5".[17] PM2.5 is the amount of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter in the air, with the World Health Organization recommending a maximum 24-hour mean of 25 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³).[18] On the morning of 23 October, PM2.5 measurements in Harbin had fallen to an average of 123 µg/m³.[12]

See also


  1. Suck it and see: Dutch artist's vacuum cleaner could clear China smog The Guardian 24.10.2013
  2. 1 2 "长春雾霾天气强度破63年历史纪录" (in Chinese). 中国新闻网. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  3. 1 2 "哈尔滨重度雾霾第二日:全市停课 交通瘫痪_新闻_腾讯网 [Second Day of severe Haze in Harbin]". News.qq.com. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  4. "Northern China smog closes schools and airport in Harbin". BBC. 21 October 2013.
  5. "Harbin, China: Kingdom of Ice". The Daily Telegraph. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  6. China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people Reuters 21 October 2013
  7. "Harbin Smog Crisis Highlights China's Coal Problem". National Geographic. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  8. "WEATHER & EXTREME EVENTS 7 of 10 Most Air-Polluted Cities Are in China". JAN 16, 2013. Imaginechina/Corbis. http://news.discovery.com. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  9. Bildner, Eli (February 27, 2013). "Interactive Maps of China's Most–and Least–Polluted Places". Global Voices China. http://newsmotion.org. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  10. Branigan, Tania. "Chinese city paralysed by smog". The Guardian.
  11. Huiying, Zhou; Yin, Cao (22 October 2013). "Smog wraps northeast, schools forced to close". China Daily.
  12. 1 2 "Flights resume and schools reopen as smog eases in Harbin". South China Morning Post. AFP. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  13. "雾霾天致呼吸道疾病患者骤增 专家:多吃梨__新华网黑龙江频道 [Respiratory Diseases Caused by Fog and Hazy Days Surge]". Xinhua News Agency. 21 October 2013.
  14. "Smog closes schools, highways in NE China". Xinhua News Agency. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  15. 1 2 "长春教育局回应"雾霾天气未及时通知停课"质疑".
  16. "China: record smog levels shut down city of Harbin | euronews, world news". Euronews.
  17. "Northeast remains shrouded in smog for third straight day – People's Daily Online". People's Daily. 23 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  18. "Air quality and health, Fact sheet N°313". WHO Media Centre. WHO. September 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013.

External links

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