A broad cappuccino-colored plume stretched across the Mediterranean Sea in late March, 2014. Rising from Libya’s arid inland desert region, sand and dust passed southeast of Malta, Sicily and the tip of the boot of Italy before curving northwest to pass just off of Greece.
Frequent dust storms are among the most common natural hazards occurring in Libya. A relatively mild Mediterranean climate encourages green growth along the coast, but the country’s interior receives little precipitation, and the landscape is rich in vast sand seas. Hot, dry, strong winds kick up across the region, especially in the spring and fall, lofting dust and sand high into the air. Such storms can last up to four days, and may carry dust thousands of kilometers from its source.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on March 27, 2014.