Northwestern and central Argentina are subject to frequent dust storms. A combination of late Pleistocene loess—fine sediments deposited by wind and associated with former glaciers—and dry westerlies blowing down from the Andes Mountains combine to produce sudden and extensive clouds of the fine soil. The strong winds are known locally as the pampero sucio.
This panoramic, oblique view of eastern Argentina and its coastline shows a large plume of dust blowing from the interior to the Atlantic Ocean. This image is centered on Bahia Blanca, which is also highlighted by sun glint—light reflected off the water surface back towards the astronaut-observers on the International Space Station (ISS). The only significant cloud cover is located offshore. A docked Russian Progress spacecraft is visible at image upper right.
The dust event illustrated above spans parts of the province of Rio Negro and southern parts of the provinces of La Pampa and Buenos Aires. The view also includes the coastal terrain between the Gulf of San Matias and Bahia Blanca, which are separated by about 330 kilometers. The area includes the agriculturally productive southern Pampas plain region, where the landscape transitions to the drier, less productive low hills and valleys of northern Patagonia.
Astronaut photograph ISS030-E-5118 was acquired on November 22, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using a 28 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 30 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Michael Trenchard, Barrios Technology/ESCG at NASA-JSC.
A thick plume of dust blew off the coast of Mauritania in western Africa on October 2, 2007. In this image, the dust varies in color from nearly white to medium tan. The dust plume is easier to see over the dark background of the ocean, but the plume stretches across the land surface to the east, as well.