Dust Plumes off Eritrea • Earth.com

Last update: November 17th, 2019 at 9:00 am

Wedged between Sudan in the north and Ethiopia in the south, Eritrea is a fairly small country, but it holds a variety of landscapes and climates. The central highlands have a temperate climate, and most of the country’s population lives in that region. Conditions are drier outside the highlands, particularly along the Red Sea coast, where dust storms occasionally blow over the ocean.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite observed one such dust storm on October 21, 2012. Arising near the coast, dust plumes stretched northward over the Massawa Channel, just west of the Dahlak Archipelago.

Although the highlands experience milder temperatures and more moisture, water is scarce in Eritrea. Less than 5 percent of the land is arable, and less than 0.5 percent of the land hosts permanent crops. The country has just one perennial river, and residents rely on groundwater deposits for agriculture. Besides dust storms that blow over the Red Sea, Eritrea experiences frequent droughts.

Credit: NASA image courtesy LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

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