On March 11, 2012, dust and clouds approximated a paisley pattern over the Arabian Sea. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture the same day.
The dust in this storm likely arose from a sand sea known as the Empty Quarter, or Rub’ al Khali. Holding roughly half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert, the Empty Quarter covers parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, and helps make the Arabian Peninsula one of the world’s most prolific dust-producing regions.
The bright area near the bottom edge of the image is not part of the dust plume. This is sunglint—sunlight reflecting off the ocean surface and into the satellite sensor.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.