February 5, 2023 - Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf

Clouds of green and tufts of tan colored the waters of the northern Persian Gulf in early February 2023. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of the colorful scene on February 3.

The various hues are primarily caused by suspended sediment. Much of the dirt clouding the water comes from the Shatt al Arab River, which enters the Gulf in the north along the Iran-Iraq border. The river drains the combined waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Iraq and the Karun River of Iran. Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, the Shatt al Arab carries the most fresh water—and the most sediment.

Sediment appears muddy-tan when it floats near the surface. As it sinks, the reflectivity changes with depth, so the muddy hues give way to green and finally blue as the sediment disperses. Some of the sediment may be remnants of a large dust storm that covered much of the Persian Gulf on February 1.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 2/3/2023
Resolutions: 1km (95.5 KB), 500m (220.7 KB), 250m (116.2 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC