Iraq faces an increasing number of severe dust storms •

Iraq faces an increasing number of severe dust storms

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a severe dust storm in Iraq. Dust storms are most common in this region in the late spring and summer, triggered by seasonal winds such as the “shamal” that blows in from the northwest. 

In the past two weeks in the Middle East, poor air quality from two major storms has sent thousands of people to the hospital for asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“The skies above Baghdad, Najaf, Sulaimaniyah, and other cities turned orange as visibility dropped to a few hundred meters. Several airports were closed during the dust events, and schools were closed nationwide. Government offices were shuttered in seven of the Iraq’s 18 provinces, and several governors declared states of emergency,’ reports NASA.

According to news media reports, Iraq has endured at least eight dust storms in the past six weeks. Recent studies have shown that these events have become more frequent in Iraq. 

“The country has been facing drought conditions in recent years, as well as land-use changes and overuse that mean there is more loose soil available to be lofted into the atmosphere,” says NASA. “The World Bank cited Iraq as one of the countries most vulnerable to desertification and climate change.”

The image was captured on May 16, 2022 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Aqua satellite. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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