Dust storms are a common occurrence over the Middle East. The fine sediments of the Tigris and Euphrates floodplains have historically accounted for many if not most of the dust storms in the region, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the frequency and duration of such storms have increased. Beginning in late June 2009, the worst dust storm in living memory struck Iraq and spread to neighboring countries. Another storm raged over Iraq again at the end of July.
The MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of Iraq on July 30, 2009, the second consecutive day of heavy dust over the country. Thick dust blows southeastward over the Tigris and Euphrates floodplain and the Persian Gulf. The dust is thick enough to completely hide the land surface and water bodies below.