Thursday, March 27, 2008

Great Smoggy Mountain

At a meeting of the Chemical Society of Japan yesterday, researchers from Waseda University announced a surprising discovery - the level of photochemical smog precursors in the air atop Mount Fuji is higher than that found in the center of Tokyo. Indeed, in the case of toluene the levels in the air at the summit were 3 times higher than in city air.

So much for standing on the mountaintop, taking in a bracing lungful of fresh, clean air.

The Waseda result may help explain the disconcerting red haze over the summit of Mt. Fuji in this image that I took when halfway up Mt. Ono last year (click on image for larger view).

View of Mt. Fuji from Yaga
Ashigarakami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
April 29, 2007

Unsurprisingly, researchers suspect that the source of the high-altitude pollution is China somewhere outside Japan's borders, though they do not have the evidence supporting this contention yet.

Our beloved 99 Yen Store products come with an increasingly visible second price tag, it seems...


Anonymous said...

It's not really as though Japan has shown all that much respect to Fuji or the environment in general, though, is it?

When I climbed Fuji, just out of season, in September 2003, I was struck by three things: not the view, the height, or the feeling, but the garbage everywhere, the dumptrucks racing up and down the mountain (oddly some empty, some filed with rocks and dirt in both directions), and the rows of rusty 55-gallon drums on top of the mountain.

The red haze might come from China, but it certainly doesn't help that Fuji is primarily a symbol of Japan in the way that it, like much of the rest of the country, is treated as a dump.

Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I've seen a deep blue sky. A real tragedy.

It's admittedly more of a speculative matter, but there's a fair degree of evidence that most of the world's powers have been releasing aerosols into the atmosphere for various purposes, such as LIDAR and weather tests. Not that this would reach the level of smog coming from China, but it does make it hard for the US and Japan to complain.