The dust storm that struck Iraq in late July 2009 traveled toward the southeast and over the Persian Gulf on the last day of the month. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on July 31, 2009. It was the third consecutive day of heavy dust storm activity over the Middle East.
Thick dust from Iraq sweeps over eastern Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and much of the Persian Gulf . A thinner haze of dust hangs over the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Qatar-based news source Gulf Times reported that thick dust plumes engulfed the peninsular nation on July 30, and the dust was predicted to travel to United Arab Emirates. The leading edge of a thick dust plume over the Persian Gulf just reaches the UAE shore in this image.
Iraq is no stranger to dust storms, but a July 30 report in the Los Angeles Times cited numerous reasons for increased dust activity since the turn of the twenty-first century. Some causes included regional drought, water diversion, desertification, and power shortages that interfere with irrigation systems. The combination of factors led to a buildup of dust in Iraq that could be lofted into the atmosphere by even slight winds.
- Gulf Times. (2009, July 31). Severe dust storm lashes Qatar. Accessed July 31, 2009.
- Sly, L. (2009, July 30). Iraq in throes of environmental catastrophe, experts say. Los Angeles Times. Accessed July 30, 2009.
- University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (2003). Forecasting Dust Storms. Accessed July 30, 2009.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.
- Terra - MODIS