Dust over the Arabian Sea


In early February 2013, dust plumes blew off the coast of Oman and over the Arabian Sea. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites captured these natural-color images on the morning (top) and afternoon (bottom) of February 4. In the roughly three hours separating these images, the dust plumes lengthened and shifted southward.

Source points for the dust storm are not apparent in these images, but sandy desert covers large stretches of Oman. In addition, a massive sand sea extends over parts of Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. Known as Rub’ al Khali or the Empty Quarter, this sand sea is the world’s largest, holding roughly half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert. Particles in the February 4 dust storm may have arisen from the Empty Quarter.

Dust blowing off the coast of Oman was not the only dust-storm activity over the Arabian Sea on February 4. Smaller dust plumes also blew off the coasts of Iran and Pakistan (visible in the high-resolution images linked to above).

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michon Scott.