NOAA Image of the Day

Dust Storm in the Red Sea

Dust Storm in the Red Sea

A thick cloud of dust from Eritrea blows out over the Red Sea in this breathtaking true-color image captured by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite yesterday, July 25, 2017. Dust storms are caused by strong winds passing over the loose particles of sandy soils, causing them to move over the ground and fracture, freeing smaller particles -- i.e., the dust -- that become airborne and transported by the wind. According to scientists, about 20 teragrams of dust are suspended in the atmosphere at any given time. Suomi NPP's VIIRS instrument allows scientists to create photorealistic images of Earth by combining three (red, green, and blue) of VIIRS's 22 channels. In addition, data from several other channels are often also included to cancel out or correct atmospheric interference that may blur parts of the image. As shown here, dust clouds show up quite clearly in true-color images, even over lighter areas. Unfortunately, true-color imagery is only available during the daytime, which presents a problem for scientists trying to track the development and distribution of dust clouds over time. To learn more about the types of satellite imagery used to see it, check out our article, "The Dirt on Atmospheric Dust." To get a closer look at this image, visit NOAA View.

HiRes Image

Courtesy of NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory