An intense dust storm covered the Taklimakan Desert in April, 2013, turning the satellite-viewed landscape into a camel-colored blur. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on April 4 at 7:55 UTC (3:55 p.m. China Standard Time).
Dust storms are a frequent occurrence in the Taklimakan Desert – one of the world’s largest shifting-sand deserts. Sand dunes, which may reach 300 meters (982 feet) high, are in constant motion and easily lifted aloft by strong winds of the region. The dry, shifting dunes re virtually devoid of vegetation, but wherever the sand remains in place, a variety of sturdy, xerophilic plants survive. Along the perimeter of the desert, oases exist and plants are more varied and plentiful.