Smoke Plume from Oil in Baghdad, Iraq. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite captured this image of oil smoke over central Iraq on June 25, 2003. The smoke appears as dark brown or black smudges in the center of the image, near Baghdad. A smaller, fading plume is visible to the west, along the Euphrates River.
A plume of white smoke originating at the top of the image drifts west and then southeast. This is smoke from a sulfur fire at an industrial sulfur facility in northern Iraq. According to local news reports, the burning sulfur is creating a health and environmental hazard, killing summer crops, and filling the air with poisonous gases. Imagery captured as recently as July 7, 2003, shows the fire is still burning.
Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.
The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilization. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which “Iraq” is derived. Smoke Plume from Oil in Baghdad, Iraq.
Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC