Dust plumes blew off the coasts of Morocco and Western Sahara in mid-January 2008. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture on January 20. This image shows numerous plumes of dust blowing off the coast and northeast over the Atlantic Ocean. West of the Canary Islands, the dust forms a larger, more amorphous plume that blends with clouds overhead.
Sand seas cover much of Mauritania and spread into Western Sahara, providing ample material for dust storms. Because these dust plumes have formed close to the coast, they have left skies relatively clear inland, revealing the source points for many of the plumes. A source point for one of the larger plumes appears just southeast of the Mauritania-Western Sahara border where Western Sahara reaches inland.