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A giant veil of dust hung over the southern Arabian Peninsula and part of the Arabian Sea on April 7, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of the Yemen and Oman coasts the same day. A translucent layer of dust spanned hundreds of kilometers as MODIS took this picture, and the dust plume even formed a wave pattern off the Yemen coast.
Much of the Arabian Peninsula is occupied by the Empty Quarter or Rub’ al Khali. Deriving its name from its sparse human population, the Empty Quarter is a sand sea holding half as much sand as the entire Sahara Desert. This massive sand sea provides ample material for dust storms in the region. This particular dust storm was a multi-day event. MODIS observed dust over an even larger area on April 8 and April 9.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michon Scott.