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Aura Science

Asian Dust Storms

Asia is suffering through the worst dust storm season in at least five years. The eighth major storm this year clogged the air over China, Korea, and Japan with sand from the Taklamkan and Gobi deserts. The sand picks up a toxic mix of heavy metals and carcinogens as the clouds pass over China's industrial areas, exacerbating health problems due to these storms.

Sometimes portions of these clouds, along with their pollutants, are transported by the prevailing winds across to North America and are transported across Canada and the United States. One such occurrence in April, 2006, was captured by Aura's OMI instrument. In this animated sequence, the MODIS Blue Marble image is used as a background, clouds are represented by the OMI effective reflectivity measurement, and dust by the OMI aerosol index. The first date on the image corresponds to left of the international date line, the second date corresponds to right of the date line.

Dr. Colin Seftor
NPOESS Preparatory Project
Science Systems and Applications, Inc