100 MILLION tons of dust from the Sahara desert picked up each year by the wind… |
The winds pick up around 100 million tons of dust of the Sahara Desert every year, and a significant part of it blows over the North Atlantic Ocean. A fresh stash of dust was airlifted from the Sahara in early June 2022, and some appeared to be heading towards the Americas.
Image credit: NASA
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 the satellite acquired natural color images (above) of the dust on June 3 and 5, 2022, when the plumes were most distinct. NASA’s Polychromatic Earth Imaging Camera on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite also acquired hemispheric-scale views of the event on June 3 and June 4.
Image credit: NASA
NASA satellite sensors that track aerosol optical depth observed substantial increases in particles reflecting sunlight in the region from May 29 until June 6. Natural color satellite imagery of May 30 to June 6 showed the progress of the storm over the water.
Dust plays a major role in the Earth’s climate and biological systems. Airborne particles absorb and reflect sunlight, changing the amount of solar energy reaching the surface, and can also promote or reduce the formation of clouds and thunderstorms, depending on other conditions. atmospheric. Dust can degrade air quality and have negative health effects, especially for people with lung diseases. And the dust, rich in iron and other minerals needed by plants and phytoplankton, provides natural fertilizer for ocean ecosystems and downwind lands.
The Sahara Desert is by far the largest source of airborne dust on Earth, and storms can occur at any time of the year. During winter and spring storms, Saharan dust often ends up fertilizing the nutrient-poor soils of the Amazon rainforest. Dust storms in the summer tend to blow material higher into the atmosphere, allowing plumes to travel thousands of miles with high-level winds. These seasonal summer winds can carry dust from Africa to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Dust plumes recently reached Florida, Texas and other southern US states mid-May 2022.