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Saharan Dust off Europe

Saharan Dust off Europe

The Saharan dust that hovered off the coast of Portugal on April 6 continued traveling northward toward the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on April 8, 2011.

Beige dust plumes form uneven shapes stretching from Spain to Ireland, where the dust mingles with clouds. The dust appears thickest off the coast of France, but still remains relatively thick hundreds of kilometers to the northwest.

The iron content of dust plumes provides nutrients for phytoplankton—microscopic organisms that live in watery environments. The peacock blue swath off the coast of France indicates a phytoplankton bloom, though it is probably not related to the dust plumes appearing in this image.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.