On May 18, 2013, a massive plume of dust swept across the Mediterranean Sea, nearly obscuring the dark waters from satellite view. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the event at on that same day.
A broad tan blanket of dust stretches in a wide arc from Africa across the waters south of Italy, with a thin veil covering the southern coast and a finger of dust blowing northward into the Adriatic Sea. To the northeast, the plume heavily shrouds southern Greece.
Dust storms are frequent in this area, especially in spring and summer, and the lofted dust may be carried long distances. Although heavier dust particles tend to be deposited near the source of the dust, finer particles can stay suspended in air for several days, or even weeks.