Dust plumes blew off the coast of Saudi Arabia and over the Red Sea in mid-January 2009. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on January 15, 2009. The largest plume blows off the Saudi Arabian coast north of Jiddah (or Jeddah), forming a counter-clockwise arc that barely misses the Sudanese coast. Along the northwestern margin of this plume, tendrils of dust form lines roughly perpendicular to the plume’s arc. These tendrils may arise from different air currents at different altitudes. Another relatively large plume blows over the Red Sea to the north, forming wavy lines that dissipate midway over the Sea.
The dust plumes arise from fine sediments along Saudi Arabia’s west coast, and many source points appear in this image. Although these dust plumes are from Saudi Arabia, dust can blow over the Red Sea from either direction. Dust plumes from Sudan also occur regularly in this region. Inland from the coast, the land surfaces of both Saudi Arabia and Sudan appear rugged and rocky, darker in color from the fine sediments that can easily give rise to dust plumes.