Dust Plumes off Libya

Dust Plumes off Libya

Dual-toned dust plumes blew off the coast of Libya and over the Mediterranean Sea in late September 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on September 28, 2010. Multiple dust plumes blow toward the north and northwest around the coastal city of Banghazi, coalescing into large, indistinct veils of dust over the ocean. West of the city, the plumes are light beige. East of the city, the plumes are mostly rust. The differing hues indicate different sources, and the plumes east of Banghazi probably arose from the like-colored sediments close to the coast.

Just over 1 percent of Libya’s land surface is arable, and most of the country is barren. Mediterranean weather predominates along the coast, but inland, extreme desert conditions prevail. Sand seas cover hundreds of square kilometers inland from the coast, and some isolated dry salt lakes occur along the shores of the Gulf of Sidra. Those dry salt lakes, however, lie south of the likely source points for the dust plumes west of Banghazi. The dust plumes in this image appear to have arisen from near-shore sediments around the city.

Over the Mediterranean Sea, the western, lighter-colored dust plume appears to encounter some kind of atmospheric disturbance. The dust forms mostly east-west running waves, immediately west of a large cloudbank.

NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

References & Resources

  • CIA World Factbook. (2010, September 29). Libya. Accessed October 2, 2010.