Dust plumes blew off the coast of Libya, over the Khalij Surt (Gulf of Sirte) and the Mediterranean Sea, in mid-April 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on April 16, 2012.
The biggest, thickest plume blows northward just east of the coastal city of Banghazi (Benghazi). Smaller plumes occur east of that plume, and small plumes also blow over the Khalij Surt. West of the gulf, a large plume drifts over the ocean, apparently having arisen from the desert sands before MODIS captured this image.
Dust storms are a regular occurrence in Libya, where sand seas span hundreds of kilometers and only about 1 percent of the land is arable. Dust-laden winds can last up to four days at a time in the spring and fall. Unlike the bone-dry desert interior, Libya’s coast enjoys a relatively moist Mediterranean climate where winter rains water vegetation. The difference in land cover is apparent in the rich green hues, not quite hidden by the dust plumes, east of Banghazi.