Dust Storm in Afghanistan and Pakistan • Earth.com

Last update: July 13th, 2020 at 9:00 am

As Pakistan grappled with devastating floods, just hundreds of kilometers away, a dust storm struck the westernmost part of the country. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on August 24, 2010.

The arid landscape of southeastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, and western Pakistan appears in shades of beige, brown, and muted green. The dust plume forms a U shape that spans the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Some source points for the dust are discernible in this image. Ephemeral lakes dot the border between Iran and southwestern Afghanistan, and some dry lakebed sediments may have contributed to the dust. Whether all of the dust in the plume has arisen in this area, however, is unclear. Sand seas also line the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and sand in those areas likely contributed to the plume as well.

Near the lower right corner of the image, part of the irrigated Indus River Valley appears, including the city of Jacobabad. Jacobabad was surrounded by rising floodwaters throughout much of August 2010.The territory that now constitutes Pakistan was the site of several ancient cultures and intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent. The ancient history involves the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs.

Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

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