May 4, 2014 - Dust storm over the Aral Sea (afternoon overpass)

Dust storm over the Aral Sea (afternoon overpass)

On the afternoon of April 22, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of a spreading dust storm over the Aral Sea. The same storm had been captured by the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite earlier that same morning.

As the day progressed, the winds increasingly scoured the dry lake-bottom, raising additional dust. In the south, a broad plume of white obscures the Earth beneath from view. The town of Muynak (also spelled Mo’ynoq) sits underneath this thick river of blowing dust. This town was once the home of at least 30,000 and a vibrant center of the Aral Sea’s fishing industry, with a large fleet of heavy trawlers and other vessels working out of the port. By the 1960’s the water began to noticeably become shallower, and slowly began to recede from the port. Today Muynak has less than 1,000 residents, many of which are said to be affected with chronic diseases attributable to the dust and chemicals that lift from the sea-bottom and blow over the town several times each year. Where it was once famous as a fishing port, the town's fame today lies in the eerie sight a fleet of sand-whipped, rusting ship hulks sitting on dry land, far from any water.

Strong and steady winds also pushed the pale veil of sand further to the west through the day, and broadened the area covered by the storm. The true-color image of the captured earlier in the day was published as the MODIS Image of the Day on May 2, 2014. That image can be viewed here:

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 4/22/2014
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC