Dust over the Atlantic Ocean

Dust over the Atlantic Ocean

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.

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

References & Resources

  • Holmes, H. (2001). The Secret Life of Dust. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.