Dust plumes off the Libya coast


Dust from the Sahara Desert blows over the Gulf of Sidra (Khalij Surt), a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya. The gulf measures 439 kilometres (273 mi) from the promontory of Boreum (now Ras Teyonas) on the East side to the promontory of Cephalae (Ras Kasr Hamet) on the West.

The biggest, thickest plume blows northward just east of the coastal city of Banghazi (Benghazi). Smaller plumes occur east of that plume, and small plumes also blow over the Khalij Surt. Shifting air currents have given the cloud of dust an uneven distribution, although it appears thicker to the west.

Dust storms are a regular occurrence in Libya, where sand seas span hundreds of kilometers and only about 1 percent of the land is arable. Dust-laden winds can last up to four days at a time in the spring and fall. Unlike the bone-dry desert interior, Libya’s coast enjoys a relatively moist Mediterranean climate where winter rains water vegetation. The difference in land cover is apparent in the rich green hues, not quite hidden by the dust plumes, east of Banghazi. (EarthObservatory)


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