A thick plume of dust blew off the Horn of Africa and over the blue waters of the Gulf of Aden in early August 2022. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of the scene on August 1.
A wide, thick plume rises from an arid, dust-filled region near Somalia’s coast to stretch more than 250 miles (402 km) over the Gulf. Two smaller plumes appear to arise from point-sources in Djibouti, to the northwest of the largest plume.
Because much of the Horn of Africa is extremely arid, dust storms are one of the most common natural hazards. Somalia has been suffering from long-standing drought, which increases desertification and creates conditions ripe for more frequent sandstorm. It also worsens a humanitarian crisis in that country brought about by drought and conflict.
A Situation Report written by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and published on ReliefWeb on July 7, 2022, states, “Drought conditions have deteriorated in Somalia following an unprecedented fourth consecutive failed rainy season; eight areas - up from six in May- are facing the risk of famine. More than 7 million people are affected, up from 6.1 million in May, and over 805,000 are displaced. For the first time since 2017, pockets of catastrophic food insecurity have been confirmed, affecting more than 213,000 people. At least 200 children have died in malnutrition centres since January.”