Dust Storm in the Taklimakan Desert

Dust Storm  in the Taklimakan Desert

A dust storm swept through the Taklimakan Desert on February 15, 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite took this picture the same day. In this image, the dust storm appears as a pale beige swath spreading from the northeast to the southwest.

The Taklimakan Desert is one of the largest shifting-sand deserts on Earth, and it supports very little vegetation. It lies in the Tarim Basin, between the Tien Shan Mountains in the north and Kunlun Mountains in the south. The basin’s lowest point is roughly 150 meters below sea level. Salt collects in the basin because the area has no drainage. An interesting feature to the east of the storm may result from the region’s salt accumulation. The landform that looks almost like a giant ear shows what are probably the contours of a retreating salt pan.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC