The Godzilla Saharan Dust storm is making its way from Africa's coast to the Gulf of Mexico. According to forecasts, the dust will be heaviest over the Florida peninsula on Wednesday, but it will last until at least Saturday next week.
This dust is presently traveling over the Atlantic and is expected to reach Florida sometime next week.
The deepest dust is seen in the plume of dark brown hues.
Landing on Florida
When the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon, its rays must pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in more vibrant oranges, reds, and pinks in the sky.
If you happen to see one of these stunning sunrises, please share it with us on social media. Another benefit of this dust is that it may aid in suppressing tropical growth in the region.
In June 2020, a "Godzilla" dust cloud traveled over the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara, the world's biggest and hottest desert, reaching North America. Dust uplift from low-level jets and haboobs causes Saharan dust plumes, which are a natural occurrence, especially during the summer. However, because of its gigantic size and volume of dust transport, this event was dubbed "Godzilla" dust plume - the most intense occurrence in the last two decades.
The Sahara Desert stretches over the northern half of Africa, covering 3,600,000 square miles (9,200,000 square kilometers), just slightly smaller than the continental United States. Each year, upwards of 60 million tons of its nutrient-rich sand and dirt are lifted into the atmosphere, forming a vast layer of hot, dusty air carried across the Atlantic by winds, delivering those nutrients to the ocean and plants in South America and the Caribbean.
Saharan dust falls into the water as it travels across the Atlantic, nourishing marine life and, similarly, plant life once it arrives on land. Minerals in the dust, such as iron and phosphorus, function as fertilizer for the Amazon rainforest, the world's biggest and most biodiverse tropical forest, whose rains would otherwise wash away many of these vital nutrients into the Amazon river basin.
Dust incursion impacts air quality, thus tracking and understanding dust plumes and their impacts is crucial. For example, the "Godzilla" dust cloud lowered air quality in the Caribbean Basin to dangerous levels. In contrast, dust incursion into the United States violated EPA air quality standards in around 40% of the southern United States stations.
Children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory diseases such as asthma are especially vulnerable to dust inhalation. As a result, NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites' Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) GOES-16 (EAST) satellite, and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite are used to help detect dust plumes so that at-risk communities can prepare.
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