A strong Saharan dust storm blew across Niger in early May, 2013, obscuring the ground and leaving a haze in the air over the neighboring countries of Nigeria (due south) and Chad (southeast in this image). The Terra satellite flew over the region on May 7, 2013, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard to acquire this true-color image of the seething sands.
The Sahara desert is the world’s largest source of wind-borne dust, and may account for up to half the dust deposited in the world’s oceans. The precise locations of Saharan dust sources are not always known, but dust often rises from an area covering eastern Mauritania, Western Mali and southern Algeria, as well as the Bodélé Depression in Chad. Wind-driven dust from this region can be carried enormous distances, ending up in locations as far-flung as South America, North America, the Mediterranean, and southern Europe. Saharan dust has even been reported as far north as Scandinavia.