Saharan dust blew over the Atlantic Ocean in early August 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on August 11, 2011.
A dust plume runs northeast-southwest over the ocean, blowing past the border between Western Sahara and Mauritania. The dust plume appears to dissipate in a bank of clouds north of Cape Verde.
Dust plumes from the Sahara can travel hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers over the Atlantic, sometimes crossing the entire ocean. The dust plumes can carry pesticides as well as bacteria and fungi harmful to Caribbean corals. Were it not for Saharan dust, however, some Caribbean Islands would lack the soil to support vegetation. Saharan dust has also provided soil for the Amazon Rainforest.
Saharan dust hovered over the Atlantic for several days in mid-January 2008. This image shows two different areas of dust plume activity. Immediately off the coasts of Western Sahara and Mauritania, a series of tan dust plumes blow in predominantly straight lines toward the northwest. Farther west, a large, diffuse plume of dust hangs over the Atlantic Ocean