Saharan dust over the Mediterranean Sea

saharan-dust-over-the-mediterranean-sea

Thick dust blew off the northern coast of Africa and over the Mediterranean Sea in early March 2012. The dust plumes blew off the coast of both eastern and western Libya, the country in the southeast section of the image, with clear skies predominating between the plumes. The eastern plume appeared larger while the western plume mingled with clouds near the border of Libya and Tunisia. Most of Libya is desert or semi-desert, with arable land accounting for only about 1 percent of the country’s land surface. Hot, dry, dust-laden winds in the spring and fall can last for days, and dust storms count among Libya’s most frequent natural hazards. (MODIS)

In early March 2012, Saharan dust blowing off the west coast of Africa concentrated into a thick, narrow plume that traveled northward over the Atlantic Ocean. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on March 11. The river of dust blowing northward over the Atlantic was at the same latitude as the Iberian Peninsula, just hundreds of kilometers to the west. Shifting winds west of Africa apparently channeled the dust northward, and concentrated it into a narrow plume.

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