Dust Storm over the Middle East

Dust Storm over the Middle East

A massive dust cloud hovered over the Middle East in mid-June 2008, stretching from Iraq to India and spreading south past the Arabian Peninsula. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on June 18, 2008. This image shows part of the storm, including some of the thickest dust, concentrated over the Arabian Sea. Besides the heavy band of dust south of Oman, the storm creates a faint dusty haze covering almost the entire region.

The upper-left corner of this image shows a plume blowing toward the southeast over the Persian Gulf. According to the International Weather Blog at AccuWeather.com, the shamal—a northwesterly wind blowing over the floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq—had been active several days before this massive storm on June 18. The shamal caused a mild dust storm on June 16, but by June 18, the persistent wind had spread dust over southern Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and eastern Saudi Arabia. This image also shows a heavy concentration of dust off the coasts of Pakistan and India. South of the Pakistan-India border, dust mingles with clouds.

A June 18 report from GulfNews.com predicted that dust would linger over the Arabian Peninsula for another 48 hours, thanks to low wind speeds over the area. Winds were expected to pick up in a day or two, bringing warmer temperatures with them. In the meantime, individuals with breathing difficulties were advised to remain indoors.

The high-resolution image for this scene is at a resolution of 500 meters, and is composed of observations from three overpasses made by the Aqua satellite on June 18, 2008.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.