A large dust storm spread aerosols (airborne particles) over Asia and the Pacific starting on March 9, 2006. The storm reached the Beijing region on March 10, and the tiny particles remained aloft for several more days. The dust cloud remained intense as it migrated eastward from China over Korea and Japan. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) flying onboard the Aura satellite captured these images on March 9, 11, and 13.
These false-color images show the thickness of dust, smoke, or pollution in the atmosphere. The most intense regions of aerosols appear in bright red. As the images indicate, the aerosols from the dust storm over eastern China remained thick for days afterwards. Not all of the aerosols, however, necessarily resulted from the dust storm. The fairly thick aerosols southeast of the dust storm on March 9 probably resulted from pollution. On March 11, the heavy aerosols in southeast Asia (lower left corner of image) likely resulted from agricultural fires.
The dust in this storm may have originated in the Gobi Desert. In March and April, dust storms in the Gobi can exceed the total number of storms in that region throughout the rest of the year. It is not uncommon for aerosols from these storms to travel around the world.
Images courtesy Colin Seftor and Omar Torres, Aura Science Team.
March 31, 2007, marked opening ceremonies for the first “Green China Day,” established to increase awareness of the need for environmental protection. As reported by ShanghaiDaily.com, however, the ceremony in Beijing saw an unwelcome guest: Gobi Desert dust. Roughly 2,000 kilometers south of the capital city, air quality also suffered, in this case from fires in Southeast Asia.