Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a remarkable dust storm over the Arabian Sea. The dust was streaming from Oman, Pakistan, and Iran, and merged into one large plume over the water.
According to NASA, plumes of desert dust affected populated areas around the basin, as winds carried the particles over Karachi, Mumbai, and numerous other cities and degraded air quality. In Karachi, Pakistan, visibility fell to about 1,600 feet.
Hiren Jethva, a Morgan State University scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that both the size of the plume and its unusual were “quite remarkable.”
Jethva explained that winter winds usually blow out from India toward the Arabian Sea, carrying various aerosols from local pollution and biomass burning. “However, the reversal of wind direction has likely occurred, bringing dust from the ocean to the Indian subcontinent.”
On January 21, high winds kicked up dust and carried it toward the southeast. On January 22, the dust took a turn toward the east, eventually settling over western India, including the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.
The dust lingered in the air for days. By January 24, the air quality index in Mumbai was “severe,” the highest category in the country’s index.
The Arabian Sea is also known as the Sea of Oman, and was historically known as the Persian Sea, the Erythraean Sea, the Indian Sea, Sindh Sea, and the Akhzar Sea.
The image was on January 22, 2022 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory