NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of a massive smog bank smothering huge portions of China today. This blanket of pollution has been hovering over the country for over a week now, exacerbated by cool air and smoke from fires.

According to NASA, whose researchers first wrote about this lingering smog bank on Oct. 30:

A temperature inversion may be responsible for the build up of pollution over eastern China. Normally, air cools with altitude, but occasionally, a layer of cool air will be trapped beneath a layer of warm air. Since the cool air is more dense than the air above it, the two layers don't mix and pollutants build up in the cool air near Earth's surface.

Temperature inversions develop most often during the winter, when long, cool nights chill the ground. The cold land cools the air nearest the ground, leaving the air at higher altitudes warmer. The two layers of air do not easily mix, and the temperature inversion can last for days if winds are calm.

So far it has lasted for more than a week. Is this the future of weather?

via NASA