More Saharan dust swept off the west coast of Africa and over the Pacific on March 12, 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite took this picture the same day. In this image, a swath of dust several hundred kilometers across sweeps over the Atlantic, partially cloaking the Cape Verde Islands near the top center of the image.
It is not uncommon for Saharan dust storms to travel across the Atlantic to North or South America, or the Caribbean. To the Caribbean, Saharan dust is a mixed blessing. Excessive amounts of dust have decimated some species of Caribbean corals, but dust has also paved the way for other life forms to flourish. Without regular doses of dust, some islands in the Caribbean would be barren rock.
Holmes, H. (2001) The Secret Life of Dust. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response team.
Saharan dust hovered over the Atlantic for several days in mid-January 2008. This image shows two different areas of dust plume activity. Immediately off the coasts of Western Sahara and Mauritania, a series of tan dust plumes blow in predominantly straight lines toward the northwest. Farther west, a large, diffuse plume of dust hangs over the Atlantic Ocean
Floridians looking for a break from hurricane season in late July 2005 were in for a change, though it wasn’t necessarily what they wanted: Saharan dust. By July 19, a massive dust storm had crossed the Atlantic towards southern Florida. This image, captured by the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument, shows wide swaths of the planet. On the right is the Sahara Desert, Earth’s biggest dust-producing machine. In the far upper left is North America, this dust storm’s likely target. In the center of the picture, intermixed with clouds, is the swirling dust storm, nearly the size of the United States.
On March 10, 2007, thick plumes of dust blew off the west coast of Africa and over the Canary Islands. In this image, the tan dust strikes a strong contrast with the navy blue ocean. The dust plumes are thickest over the Canary Islands, almost thick enough to completely obscure the satellite’s view of them.