August 5, 2020


Connecting People

Giant Saharan Dust Cloud Blowing Over the Atlantic is Visible From a Million Miles Away in Space

A colossal cloud of dust that rose up above the Sahara Desert in mid June has been swept 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and now threatens to convey haze and overall health impacts to the United States.

The cloud is so outstanding that it is quickly noticed in visuals of Earth acquired by the Deep Place Climate Observatory spacecraft oribiting a million miles absent.

Robust updrafts in the ambiance higher than the Sahara lofted huges amounts of dust on or all-around June 13, 2020. The cloud was then picked up by the prevailing winds and blown west out above the Atlantic Ocean, eventually achieving the Caribbean.

An animation of Suomi-NPP satellite visuals reveals the Saharan dust cloud blowing westward above the Atlantic concerning June 13 and 22, 2020. (Photographs: NASA Worldview. Animation: Tom Yulsman)

“Generally, hundreds of millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean each and every year,” according to NASA. “That dust will help develop seashores in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon. It can also have an effect on air quality in North and South The usa.”

The top edge of the cloud achieved islands in the japanese Caribbean various days back. Yesterday, a movie posted to Twitter showed thick brown haze from the dust casting a pall above above Barbados. Another movie showed the cloud enveloping San Juan Puerto Rico.

As the cloud drifted above Puerto Rico and a substantial swath of the Carribbean, the GOES-sixteen weather satellite tracked it:

The animation (which repeats 3 times) is composed of visuals acquired by the satellite on June 22, 2020. Evidence of the sand-colored dust can be noticed as far west as Central The usa.

The cloud is headed for landfall in Texas and Louisiana starting up early Wednesday early morning (June 24).

Saharan Dust Cloud Forecast

The forecast for the evolution of the Saharan dust cloud. (Supply: NASA World Modeling and Assimilation Office environment)

The highest concentrations of dust are very likely to arrive by Friday afternoon. This ought to convey lovely sunsets — but also probably major overall health impacts.  

“Persons with fundamental overall health circumstances like bronchial asthma, long-term bronchitis, and emphysema or COPD ought to love the increased sunset views from indoors with filtered air, or whilst sporting a protecting mask, if outdoor,” claimed Dr. Charles Preston, the coroner of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, quoted in a tale.  “Like the flower of foxglove, which includes digitalis, these sunsets can be lovely but lethal.”

Saharan Dust Cloud Seen From International Space Station

An astronaut aboard the Worldwide Place Station took this photograph of the Saharan dust cloud above the Atlantic Ocean on June 21, 2020. (Supply: NASA)

Dust clouds like this are not at all uncommon — even though this one looks to be particularly intense. They come up as a end result of a phenomenon recognised as the “Saharan Air Layer.”

SAL is is a mass of quite dry, dusty air that kinds above the Sahara Desert commonly starting up in mid-June — just as this one did. The layer of dusty air commonly is about two to two.5 miles thick, with a foundation at about one mile higher than the floor.

“The heat, dryness, and strong winds related with the Saharan Air Layer have been demonstrated to suppress tropical cyclone development and intensification,” according to the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The exercise commonly peaks from late June to mid-August, and then subsides following mid-August.

Von Karman Vortex Cape Verde Islands

As Saharan dust blew above the Cape Verde Islands on June 18, 2020, vortex patterns appeared downstream, as noticed in this graphic acquired by the Sentinel three satellite. (Supply: Copernicus Sentinel data processed by Tom Yulsman with the Sentinel Hub EO Browser)

Dust from Saharan Air Layer outbreaks blowing above islands in the Atlantic can develop striking patterns downstream. These extended chains of spiral eddies are recognised as Von Karman vortices, named following Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian-American physicist who was the very first to explain how they variety.

As winds blow across a function like an island increasing from the ocean, the airflow tends to divert all-around it in an alternating direction of rotation. The ensuing swirling sample is usually noticed in clouds downstream. In this situation, it is really in the dust currently being swept westward by the winds.