Dust Storm in Afghanistan | Satellite: Terra

Dust Storm in Afghanistan
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Tens of thousands of people have been suffering through months of devastating sandstorms in the Sistan Basin region the Middle East. Once an oasis surrounded by thousands of kilometers of desert, the Sistan Basin’s Hamoun Wetlands have all but disappeared, leaving the marsh’s light sediment to dry up and blow away in the winds. The Hamoun Wetlands straddled the border between Iran and Afghanistan, and were a major source of food and shelter for the people of Central Asia. But persistent drought conditions and increased irrigation and human mismanagement of the Helmand River have quickly turned these wetlands into arid saltpans.

The frequent strong winds blowing through the region easily scoop up the dried silt and carry it aloft for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. Such dust storms appear to be increasing in frequency and severity as residents in southern Afghanistan report that, during the last several years, the skies overhead have been the dustiest in living memory. This is a true-color Terra MODIS image from August 8, 2004. Iran is on the left side of the image, while Afghanistan sits at the top, and Pakistan at the bottom.


Satellite: Terra

Image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. All images are public domain.

Dust Storm in Afghanistan (June 16, 2004)


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