June 11, 2014 - Dust storm in Taklimakan Desert, Western China

Dust storm in Taklimakan Desert, Western China

Heavy dust blew over China’s Taklimakan desert in early June, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of the storm on June 3, 2014.

A thick cloud of tan dust covers the central basin, stretching from the base of the Tian Shan Mountains in the north to the Kunlun Mountains in the southwest. Lighter colored dust streaks the skies in the east. The two different colors suggest that winds have picked up dust and sand from at least two different sources within the Taklimakan basin.

The Taklimakan desert is a region of rolling sand dunes stretched out over about 135,000 square miles in the Xinjiang region of China. The tall mountain range in the north – the Tien Shan – blocks Arctic storms and prevents rain or snowfall during the winter. The southern mountain ranges, the Kunlun and Altun Shan, block potential rain from the Asian monsoon from falling in the desert. The Taklimakan receives less than 10 millimeters (0.4 in) of rain in the center of the basin.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 6/3/2014
Resolutions: 1km (607 KB), 500m (2 MB), 250m (4.7 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC