Continuing an intermittent pattern, dust plumes blew off the Alaskan coast and over the Gulf of Alaska on December 23, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image the same day.
Long, thin plumes blow roughly parallel to Montague Island, eventually meeting a cloud bank to the south. Along the coast, pale green swirls lighten the ocean. These areas could result from phytoplankton in coastal waters, but could just as easily be the signature of sediments suspended in the water.
At the top of the image, glaciers sprawl over the Chugach Mountains. When glaciers grind over bedrock, they can create glacial flour. Winds sometimes carry these fine sediments into the air, just as winds stir dust from Saharan and Arabian Peninsula sand seas.
- University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (2003). Forecasting dust storms. (Registration required). Accessed December 30, 2010.
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This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.