By the early afternoon of September 24, 2009, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image, the thick dust that had covered the eastern shore of Australia the previous day stretched in a long plume from northern Queensland to New Zealand. This image shows the northern portion of the plume off the coast of Queenland. The tan dust is densely concentrated in a compact plume that mirrors the coastline. The gem-like blue-green Great Barrier Reef is visible beneath the plume near the top of the image where the tan dust mingles with gray-brown smoke from wildfires.
Earlier in the day, Terra MODIS imaged the southern portion of the dust plume near New Zealand. The straight-line distance between the far northern edge of the plume, shown in this image, and the southern edge captured in the Terra MODIS image is about 3,450 kilometers (2,700 miles), roughly equivalent to the distance between New York City and Los Angeles.
The large image is at MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 kilometers per meter. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides the image in additional resolutions.
The plume of dust that swept over the South Pacific Ocean from Australia on October 13, 2009, was delicate, almost ghostly, compared to the large, dense plume of dust that darkened much of the east Australian coast on September 23.