The dust plumes that arose in the western Sahara Desert on January 18, 2012, continued their westward journey the following day. A giant crescent-shaped dust plume was seen over the Atlantic Ocean on January 19. The plume spans several hundred kilometers. Off the coast of Western Sahara, the dust forms a faint crosshatch pattern, which implies that dust particles blow in different directions at different altitudes. Most of the dust blows westward. Saharan dust frequently lands on the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, but may cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. (Earth Observatory)
Arising from discrete source points, the dust blows from northeast to southwest. Sand seas straddle the Mauritania-Algeria border, and many of the dust plumes arise in that region. In the southwest, over Mauritania, the plumes coalesce into a large mass of dust spanning more than 200 kilometers. Thinner plumes blow westward over Western Sahara toward the Atlantic coast. Sometimes the dust settles in Africa, and sometimes the dust travels across the Atlantic Ocean, providing minerals to the Amazon Rainforest.
Featured image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC
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