Dust blew off the coast of Libya on January 12, 2009, heading west-northwest over the Mediterranean Sea. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture the same day. In this image, dust and clouds mingle over northern Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. A thick plume of camel-colored dust blows off the coast, remaining discernible hundreds of kilometers away from its source before dissipating over the ocean. Northeast of the conspicuous plume, a smaller, darker plume also blows off the Libyan coast. This dust plume is both thinner and shorter than its neighbor, and its darker color suggests that it arose from different sediments.
Like other North African countries, Libya readily supplies material for dust storms. The country has a Mediterranean climate along the coast, but inland, the land is dry desert. In fact, over 90 percent if Libya’s land area is either desert or semi-desert.