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Dust over Syria and Iraq

Dust over Syria and Iraq

Dust from Syria blows along the course of the Euphrates River into Iraq in this natural-color image from June 18, 2010. The web of green that surrounds the river is only faintly visible through the veil of light-colored dust.

The dust appears to be coming from salt pans or dry lakes in northern Syria, west of the Euphrates River. Visible only in the large, full-resolution image, the salt pans are lighter in color than the surrounding desert. Salt pans form in desert regions when water evaporates from a lake, leaving behind fine silt and minerals. Wind easily lifts the light, loose silt. Salt pans are among the most frequent sources of wind-blown dust in the world.

Some of the dust may also be coming from dry areas along the Euphrates River. Drought decimated the region, shrinking the river in 2008 and 2009. Regardless of good rains in the winter of 2009-2010, some areas along the river are probably still dry and prone to dust storms.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on June 18, 2010. The large image is the highest-resolution version of the image. The image is available in additional resolutions from the MODIS Rapid Response Team.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

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