Zoomed map of Handan, Changzhi, Licheng and Dongyangguan, overlayed with a topographical map. From Google Maps and topographic-map
Air pollution in China is at an all time high. Specific to China’s terrible air in general is Xingtai 邢台, a prefecture-level city of Hebei 河北, the most polluted province in China. The article calls out the county-level city of Shahe 沙河, on the southern outskirts of Xingtai. In looking at pollution in the area, I wondered how this would affect the people in the general vicinity, specifically in the nearby Taihang Mountain 太行山 range in Shanxi Province, such as Changzhi 长治, Licheng 黎城 and Dongyangguan 东阳关. Here are some Google maps of the area, overlayed with topographical maps to show how air pollution might affect the area. Here are the current Air Quality ratings for Changzhi
Known as China’s “glass capital”, Shahe 沙河 is home to more than 600 manufacturing and processing firms that churn out a tenth of the world’s flat glass. As in many other factory towns in the country’s industrial heartland, the mills that run 24 hours a day have created jobs and boosted government coffers but have also caused serious environmental problems.
Hebei has China’s worst air pollution, and Xingtai, of which Shahe is a part, has long been one of the country’s 10 smoggiest cities. Shahe is one of its major sources of pollution.
The Taihang Mountain range starts south of Shijiazhuang, north of Xingtai and stretches due south, past Anyang, ending just north of Zhengzhou, very south of Xingtai. Pollution will blow around with the prevailing winds, but should settle to the lowest areas of elevation. Xingtai and the more southerly Handan are at lower elevations of an estimated 86m above sea level. The Taihang mountain range have elevations in excess of 1,860m. The difference of 1,774m or 5820′ probably means that the majority, if not all, would blow away from the mountain range eastward towards Jinan and then out to the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and eventually the Pacific.
China map, from Baoding to Jiazuo. Xingtai City is in the middle outlined in red. The Yellow Sea is eastward. From Google Maps.
China topographic map, from Baoding to Jiazuo. Xingtai and Handan are in the middle green grey area, east of the Taihang Mountains. The Yellow Sea is eastward.
Zooming into the area south and slightly west of Xingtai are the Shanxi cities of Changzhi, Licheng and the tiny Dongyangguan. What are the effects of Xingtai pollution in this area of China?
Zoomed map of Xingtai, south west, with relation to Changzhi, Licheng and Dongyangguan. From Google Maps.
Zoomed map of Xingtai, south west, with relation to Changzhi, Licheng and Dongyangguan, overlayed with two topographical maps. From Google Maps and topographic-map
Zoomed map of Handan, Changzhi, Licheng and Dongyangguan. Shahe, Xingtai is just in view at the top right. From Google Maps
Zoomed map of Handan, Changzhi, Licheng and Dongyangguan, overlayed with a topographical map. Shahe, Xingtai is just in view at the top right. From Google Maps and topographic-map
From the topographic maps it is clearly evident that the prevailing winds would have to be extremely strong to go up against the height of the Taihang Mountain range. The easiest route for pollution would be eastword, through the plains and towards the Yellow Sea. Air pollution from Changzhi itself, which is considerable, would stay on top of the city because Changzhi lies in a relative topographical bowl.
China’s polluting factories run around the clock while villagers are told to cut household emissions: It is pretty ironic that a jianbing seller right outside a Handan steel factory was told to switch off coal when the steel mill spews out huge amounts of pollution right in front of them.
Addendum 2017 Sept 27: Chinese cities order steel output cuts earlier than expected to fend off smog
The city of Handan in the top steelmaking province of Hebei has ordered steel mills to halve output a month earlier than expected, according to media reports, the latest city to ramp up efforts to reduce the smog that blankets northern China during the winter.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Handan city authorities told local steel mills to cut blast furnace production by 50 per cent from October 1 until March, industry consultancy Mysteel reported without citing sources.
Addendum 2017 Oct 21: In China’s Coal Capital, Xi Jinping’s Dream Remains Elusive