Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a dusty day in southeastern Turkmenistan, where the climate ranges from freezing winters to extremely hot summers.
The natural-color photo is focused on Turkmenistan’s Mary region in the spring. While vegetation typically appears brown in satellite images during the winter and summer, this image shows an abundance of green that emerges for a few months in the springtime.
“Much of the 200 to 240 millimeters (8 to 9 inches) of rain the area receives each year falls between February and May; a prolonged period of dry weather typically sets in by June,” reports NASA. “During the short growing season, greening desert sedges, grasses, shrubs, and groves of wild pistachio trees transform the landscape.”
Dust is a typical sight in the spring across this region. Strong winds are often kicked up when air masses from the north clash with tropical air from the south.
“When the satellite acquired this image, winds streamed from the west, plucking particles of dust and clay from the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan,” explained NASA. “Winds also appeared to be lifting dust from a large dune field south of the Amu Dara River in Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.”
According to NASA, the drying lakes in the region may have provided extra material for the dust storm.
“Remote sensing data published in 2021 indicates that many lakes in the region shrank or dried up during the past two decades. Dried lake beds are known for fueling dust storms because they have large amounts of loose dust at the surface.”
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory