October 8, 2010 - Dust storm off West Africa

Dust storm off West Africa

A blanket of tan-colored Saharan dust blows across the arid lands of West Africa then across the Atlantic Ocean, veiling the waters from the Canary Islands, in the north, to the Cape Verde Islands, in the south. This natural colored image was captured on October 3, 2010 as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite passed overhead.

Dust can be blown about by strong wind, but can also travel by convection, which is a cycling process in which heated, dry air becomes less dense and rises, and then sinks once more as the air condenses in the colder, higher atmosphere. In the Sahara region, this convective cycle, called the Hadley Cell, can carry dust on dry, descending air masses for thousands of miles. Thus large concentrations of Saharan dust can be found as far as the Caribbean and even northwards to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 10/03/2010
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC