Sand blown from Africa to Scandinavia

NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument recently gathered information  leading to these fascinating images of dust blown from the Sahara, several thousand miles across Europe. Red represents higher concentrations of particles, grey indicates areas with unreliable data or cloud cover. Over six days, starting April 5, you can see the dust cloud curl around the Atlantic and Portugal, then sweep through northern Europe to Scandinavia

Saharan dust cloud crossing Europe

Created by Jesse Allen, using OMI aerosol data from the OMI Science Team.

The Earth Observatory explains the reason for collecting this information (apart from making cool maps):

Atmospheric scientists track aerosols — tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in our atmosphere—because they have important impacts on weather, climate, and human health…. Dust can fertilize the ocean for plankton and seed the sky for cloud formation.

Apparently dust travelling this distance isn’t unusual:

In fact, Miami often suffers from poor air quality due to this dust. And we’ve tracked dust clouds from the Gobi desert being transported all the way across the Pacific as far the East Coast of the United States.

For an alternate view, the Terra satellite captured this true colour image of the plume passing Portugal:

Sand cloud crossing the Atlantic near Portugal

Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

There’s a high-resolution version of the photo here, also a KML file for Google Earth

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