Strong winds blowing out of Pakistan and Iran in recent days have lofted large amounts of dust and sand offshore into the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. This true-color image from the NOAA-20 satellite shows an impressive dust plume extending several hundred miles southward over the open ocean. Data from NOAA's partner polar satellites show surface winds along the coast of southern Iran and Pakistan were around 25 mph when this image was captured on November 4, 2018.
Large dust plumes are often seen near the Arabian Peninsula and the desert regions of South and Central Asia. In this image, the dust likely originated from dry lakes and riverbeds in southwestern Pakistan.
Mineral dust is the single largest component of aerosols in Earth's atmosphere and plays an important role in Earth's climate system. Scientists estimate that on average, about 20 teragrams of dust are suspended in our atmosphere at any given time.
The NOAA-20 satellite's VIIRS instrument provides global coverage twice a day with 750-meter resolution across its entire scan. Its daily multi-channel imaging capabilities provide high-resolution visible and infrared imagery of atmospheric aerosols, such as dust and sand.