The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a huge plume of Saharan dust blowing across Algeria on April 8, 2014. The light tan dust stretches more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the Algeria/Mali border in the west to the desert east of the oasis city of In Salah.
Over 80% of Algeria’s land belongs to the extremely arid Sahara Desert. Sand seas are dramatic, austere and beautiful features of the landscape – and also great sources of material for dust storms. While storms can arise at any time of the year, the unsettled weather of spring often brings strong and gusty winds. The resulting storms can be localized or spread over large areas.
When dust is lifted high aloft, it can travel thousands of kilometers over both land and sea. Earlier this spring sandstorms in northern Africa brought heavy dust clouds to the United Kingdom. During the first week of April, 2014, Saharan dust mixed with local and regional emissions and pollutants to create an unfortunate and unpleasant smog which covered many parts of the UK, causing the English government to issue health warnings and advise residents with respiratory difficulties to stay indoors.