Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in NASA: Tracking Dust Across the Atlantic - 09.11.13 | Posted on 12:28
Dust from the Sahara Desert and other points in interior Africa were lofted into the sky in late July 2013, and the images above show the general westerly and northwesterly progression of the airborne particles across the Atlantic Ocean. (Note that the milky lines running vertically across each image are caused by sunglint, the reflection of sunlight off the ocean directly back at the sensor.) The images help reveal wind patterns (such as trade winds) that steer plumes and clouds. At several points, dust stretched continuously from North Africa to South America.
The dust also was detected by the Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite (OMPS) on Suomi NPP. The maps below show the relative concentrations of aerosol particles on July 31 and August 1-2. While designed to measure ozone in the atmosphere, OMPS gathers ultraviolet spectral information that reveals the presence of smoke and airborne dust. Lower concentrations appear in yellow, and greater concentrations appear in orange-brown. Each map includes roughly six satellite passes. (Note: sunglint also causes some vertical banding in these images.)
Since late July, some meteorologists have speculated that a particularly dry and dusty Saharan Air Layer was suppressing hurricane formation in the North Atlantic. As of August 27, 2013, no tropical storms had reached hurricane strength yet in the Atlantic Ocean, an unusual but not unprecedented season.
On short-term scales, dry air masses from Africa can sap the moisture-collecting energy of storm systems over the ocean. On the longer scale (years or longer), more dust can mean fewer storms because it blocks incoming sunlight, leading to cooler ocean temperatures. Deciphering the effect of Saharan air and dust is one of the research goals of NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) airborne field campaign this year.
This final view (below) of the dust storm is a composite of VIIRS images from August 1, 2013. The hemispherical projection was created from seven orbits of Suomi NPP.
- Suomi NPP
NASA: Tracking Dust Across the Atlantic - 09.11.13
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