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Dust over the Arabian Peninsula

Dust over the Arabian Peninsula

Another dust storm following a typical pattern blew over the Arabian Peninsula in late February 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on February 26.

This image shows a dust plume, thick enough to hide the land surface below, stretching hundreds of kilometers from Yemen to the Persian Gulf. This region is home to the Empty Quarter, or Rub’ al Khali. The Rub’ al Khali is a massive sand sea that holds about half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert. Larger than France, the sand sea covers parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Though most abundant in the Empty Quarter, the Arabian Peninsula’s sand is certainly not limited to this region. Sand and silt cover much of the Peninsula, and it ranks among the world’s most abundant dust-producing regions.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

References & Resources

  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Forecasting Dust Storms. (Registration required.) Accessed March 2, 2012.
  • Webster, D., (2005, February 1). Empty Quarter. National Geographic. Accessed March 2, 2012.