Dust Plume off Western Africa • Earth.com

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

A thick plume of dust blew off the west coast of northern Africa on July 20, 2007. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture the same day. This image shows the beige-tan plume—thick enough to be completely opaque in places—over the Atlantic Ocean. The source of the plume is not obvious in this image, and given the plume’s diffuse shape, it may have originated farther east.

South of the plume, a wave pattern appears. Both airborne dust and clouds can make waves in the atmosphere visible to satellite sensors. The northern portions of these waves are faint, but as they meld with cloud formations in the south, the waves become easier to discern. Just north of the waves, the ocean water takes on a pale green color, which may be due to shallow water, sediment and/or algae.

Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center

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