Dust storm over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Persian Gulf

dust-storm-over-afghanistan-pakistan-iran-and-persian-gulf

Dust continued to blow across Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 5, 2012. The light beige dust rose from the Hamoun wetlands along the border of Iran (west) and Afghanistan (east) and blows in a wide band across southern Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. The dust also shrouds the Gulf of Oman. The Hamoun wetlands once provided a plentiful water supply that supported fishing, farming and a variety of game animals. In recent times, the wetlands have become dry from a combination of overzealous irrigation and severe drought. Instead of a welcoming respite for over 150 species of migratory birds, the area is now a source of dust, sand and salt from dry lake beds. According to a study published in 2003, over 100 towns which once thrived near the oasis had already been submerged by windblown dust.

 

When moisture is scarce, areas like the Hamoun wetlands transform to dry lakebeds, and the fine sediments provide material for dust storms. Multiple dry lakebeds occur along the borders between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, in addition to the Hamoun wetland area. High temperatures can also contribute to dust storms by making air near the ground unstable. In such conditions, even light winds can loft dust into the air.

The current dust storm began on June 2, and will likely continue for a day or more, driven by high winds and high temperatures. On June 5, the Lahore Times reported cloudy weather with dust storm conditions and gusty winds predicted for Karachi, Pakistan. On that same day, Weather Underground reported a high temperature of 35°C(95°F ) with wind gusts of up to 50 km/h (30 miles per hour) in Karachi.

On June 2, 2012, a dust storm struck southeastern Iraq. Winds blew fine sediments toward the southeast, over the Persian Gulf, and into northeastern Saudi Arabia. Winds also kicked up streamers of dust in Qatar. Although most of the countries affected by the dust enjoyed some clear skies outside of the storm, dust completely obliterated Kuwait. On June 4, Kuwait Times reported that the storm had paralyzed the country, with visibility reduced to less than 500 meters (1,600 feet). Dust storm activity was expected to continue, although it was expected to benefit residents by lowering recent high temperatures.

Sources: EarthObservatory, MODIS, Kuwait Times

Featured image credit: KuwaitTimes

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