Status Report

NASA MODIS Image of the Day: January 4, 2007 – Dust Storm off West Africa

By SpaceRef Editor
January 4, 2007
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NASA MODIS Image of the Day: January 4, 2007 – Dust Storm off West Africa


This image, acquired by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on January 1, 2007, shows a dust storm off the coast of Western Africa. Visible at the top of the image are the Canary Islands, which are just off the coast of Western Sahara, a region that consists mostly of desert flatlands. Dust storms in this region are common because of the lack of vegetation – the dust is easily picked up by the wind.

This dust storm is quite large, stretching from Morocco, down through Western Sahara, through Mauritania, and even to northern Senegal! Believe it or not, the impacts of Saharan dust storms canreach far beyond Africa. Airborne dust particles blow out over the Atlantic Ocean, as you see here. They can actually enter trade winds bound for Central and North America and the Caribbean, and cross the ocean in 5-7 days.

According to Visible Earth, “the dust has been shown to introduce foreign bacteria and fungi that have damaged reef ecosystems and have even been hypothesized as a cause of increasing occurrences of respiratory complaints in places like Florida, where the amount of Saharan dust reaching the state has been increasing over the past 25 years.” Saharan dust has even been linked to red tides in the Gulf of Mexico!

SpaceRef staff editor.