A dust plume spanning hundreds of kilometers blew off the coast of western Africa on February 6, 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture the same day.
West of Mauritania, the dust is thick enough to hide the ocean surface below. Part of the Cape Verde archipelago is faintly visible through the plume. Clouds floating overhead cast their shadows on the dust.
Distinct plumes blow off the coast of Western Sahara over the ocean, but the large veil of dust in the southwest likely arose farther inland. Sandy desert covers most of Mauritania, and those sand seas may have provided the material for most of the dust in this image. The clouds in the southeast are part of a large cloud bank stretching over western Africa. The clouds could be associated with the weather pattern that blew the dust off the coast.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.