Climate crisis

A virtual tour of Beijing's Mars-like sandstorms

The science behind sandstorm pollution, explained.

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Beijing made headlines this week, as skies turned dark orange — echoing a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

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Although Beijing is known for its high levels of air pollution, the air quality hasn’t been this bad since 2017.

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Sandstorms happen when strong winds trap large amounts of sand and dust in the air. Increasing desertification — partly due to human activity — contributes to sandstorms.

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Known as “calima,” these warm winds regularly carry dust from the Sahara to Spain. In the past, this weather phenomenon created an apocalyptic sandstorm that blanketed the Canary Islands and exacerbated wildfires in 2020.

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Read more stories on the climate crisis here.

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