Dust plumes blew through Syria and Iraq in early December 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on December 10, 2011.
The dust plumes arise from discrete points in Syria and northwestern Iraq, and blow toward the southeast. Over Iraq, the dust is thick enough to completely hide the Euphrates River Valley. In that region, the dust arcs northward, forming a ripple pattern near the Iraq-Iran border. Immediately north of the dust is a cloudbank, and the clouds may be associated with the same weather pattern that has stirred the dust.
Desert predominates in both Syria and Iraq, where dust storms and sand storms rank among the most common natural hazards. Fine sediments of the Tigris and Euphrates riverbeds provide ample material for such storms.