Dust Storms map

Photo: Dust storm over Africa

Caption: The satellite image, acquired by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center's SeaWiFS Project and ORBIMAGE in February 2000, show one of the largest Saharan dust storms ever observed by SeaWiFS. The dust contains phytoliths (opaline silica spicules from grasses) and freshwater diatoms which have been recovered in sediment cores across the central Atlantic. Essential nutrients are provided by the dust to the Amazon rain forest in South America, and support a bromeliad ecosystem in the forest canopy high above the ground.

More about this image: A massive sandstorm blowing off the northwest African desert has blanketed hundreds of thousands of square miles of the eastern Atlantic Ocean with dense cloud of Saharan sand. The massive nature of this particular storm was first seen in this SeaWiFS image acquired on Saturday, 26 February 2000 when it reached 1000miles into the Atlantic. These storms and the rising warm air can lift dust 15,000 feet or so above the African deserts and then out across the Atlantic, many times reaching as far as the Caribbean where they often require the local weather services to issue air pollution alerts as was recently the case in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recent studies by the U.S.G.S. (http://catbert.er.usgs.gov/african_dust/) have linked the decline of the coral reefs in the Caribbean to the increasing frequency and intensity of Saharan Dust events. Additionanlly, other studies suggest that Sahalian Dust may play a role in determining the frequency and intensity of hurricanes formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean (http://www.thirdworld.org/role.html).

Source: U.S. Geological Survey, USGS --- NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center's The SeaWiFs Project and ORBIMAGE

Website: http://catbert.er.usgs.gov/african_dust/
NOTE: All SeaWiFS images presented on this website are for research and educational use only. All commercial use of SeaWiFS data must be coordinated with ORBIMAGE.

NSF Funded: NO

Previous slide Next slide Back to first slide View graphic version