Thick dust plumes blew over northeastern China at the end of March 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of the region just north of Beijing on March 31, 2010. An especially thick plume blows in a clockwise direction immediately east of the China-Mongolia border. West of that plume, another dust plume blows toward the southwest, roughly parallel with the Mongolian border.
This storm followed on the heels of several other dust storms in March 2010, and explanations for the storms varied. While some studies have blamed desertification for an increase in dust storms in China, a report from China Daily attributed the March 2010 storms to strong, frequent cold spells, stating that the earliest dust storm in 2010 actually arrived later than usual, thanks to unusually cold weather in Mongolia. Dust storms in the Gobi Desert, which covers most of southern Mongolia, typically increase dramatically each March.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.