Mar 10, 2023 08:30 PM

Sand Engulfs Northern China

What’s new: Regions across northern China including Beijing and Inner Mongolia autonomous region are being coated with sand and dust, triggering the first sandstorm warning of this year.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued the warning on Wednesday and has kept it up since.

As of Friday afternoon, the concentration level of PM10, fine particles that are damaging to the lungs, reached 544 micrograms per cubic meter in some districts of Beijing, much higher than the one-day average of 45 micrograms per cubic meter level recommended by the World Health Organization.

Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Hebei province also experienced severe levels of pollution, with PM10 concentrations reaching more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in some areas.

What’s more: This widespread sand and dust weather is a “byproduct” of rising cold air to arrive in the coming days, the NMC said. Recent warm weather has caused ground temperatures to increase and when coupled with no rain, this can cause sandstorms to form out of dry and sandy environments, said Wang Weiyue, an analyst at Weather China.

The dust is thought to have travelled southeast from Mongolia. It is expected to subside in north China around Saturday afternoon.

Sand and dust shroud Beijing on Friday. Photo: Sun Muzi, intern reporter/Caixin 

A resident rides through the pollution wearing a mask. Photo: Li Congxun, intern reporter/Caixin 

Buildings in Beijing’s Chaoyang district are shrouded by sand and dust on Friday afternoon. Photo: Li Congxun, intern reporter/Caixin 

A resident crosses a pedestrian bridge. Photo: Li Congxun, intern reporter/Caixin 

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Kelly Wang ( and editor Jonathan Breen (

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