Image: Saharan Dust Reaching the Americas

Saharan dust reaching the Americas is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 32 crew member on the International Space Station. Weather satellites frequently document major dust palls blowing from the Sahara Desert westward from Africa out into the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Space station crew members frequently see these Saharan dust masses as very widespread atmospheric haze. Dust palls blowing from Africa can be transported right across the Atlantic Ocean.

It takes about a week to reach either North America (in northern hemisphere summer) or South America (in northern hemisphere winter). This puts the Caribbean basin on the receiving end of many of these events. Recently, researchers have linked Saharan dust to coral disease, allergic reactions in humans, and red tides. The margin of the hazy air in this image reaches as far as Haiti (top center) and the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands (top left) -- but the eastern tip of Cuba in the foreground remains in the clear air. ISS032-E-008976 (15 July 2012) --- high res (1.0 M) low res (77 K)

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