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Dust Storm near Brisbane, Australia

Dust Storm near Brisbane, Australia

On November 29, 2006, the Courier Mail news service in Australia reported that the source of “that eerie glow” in the Brisbane area resulted from dust. A dust storm originating along the border between New South Wales and Queensland clogged the skies over the region. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of the dust storm as it headed toward the Coral Sea on November 30. In this image, the dust appears as a pale tan plume sprawling over the land surface and the clouds along Australia’s coast. Tiny red dots in the image are hotspots detected by MODIS, and they indicate fires. It is possible that smoke from local fires has mingled with the dust in this plume.

Dry conditions contribute to both dust storms and fires. (A cluster of fires burned just south of this storm.) According to the Reuters news service, Australia was already suffering from a drought widely regarded as the country’s worst in a century. In early November, officials attending a water summit suggested that the drought might actually be the worst in 1,000 years.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center