On March 23, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite observed a thick dust plume extending roughly north-south through the country. Stopping just shy of Iraq’s northern border, the plume clogged skies over Baghdad, and hid Buhayrat ath Tharthar (Lake Tharthar) from the satellite sensor’s view.
Dust storms count among the most common natural hazards in Iraq, as winds loft fine particles into the air from dry river, lake, floodplain, and marsh sediments. Silt-rich soils, which lend material to most of this region’s dust storms, occur over large portions of the country.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michon Scott.