Dust and Smoke over the Mediterranean • Earth.com

Last update: November 19th, 2019 at 11:00 am

On October 17, 2006, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured dust and smoke blowing northward over the Mediterranean Sea. The dust came from a dust storm along the border between Libya and Egypt. The smoke came from fires in the Nile Delta, hundreds of kilometers to the east.

In this image, multiple plumes of dust blow off the coastlines of Libya and Egypt. The thickest plume originates just east of the border between the two countries, and two smaller plumes off Egypt merge over the Mediterranean. Overhead, rows of small, bright white clouds cast their shadows onto the dust. Just south of the coast, a sand sea crosses the border between Libya and Egypt, and this sand sea may have been the source of at least some of the dust.

The Nile Delta stands out from the arid landscape of the Sahara, but the same vegetation that gives the delta its lush green appearance can also catch fire. This image shows a series of red dots called hotspots, where MODIS has detected surface temperatures much hotter than their surroundings. Faint wisps of smoke from the fires blow northward toward the Mediterranean, dissipating not far beyond the shore.

Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

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