Dust across Central Africa

Dust across Central Africa

Dust mixed with smoke across central Africa in early January 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on January 9, 2011. Red dots indicate hotspots associated with fires.

Dust from the Bodele Depression, northeast of Lake Chad, blew toward the southwest, leaving dust over the lake and parts of Niger and Nigeria. At the same time, fires burned across central Africa (likely set for clearing agricultural land) and mingled smoke with the dust.

Saharan dust often travels across the Atlantic Ocean. Although the dust can cause respiratory irritation and coral damage, it also provides valuable soil to the New World. In fact, a 2006 study found that Amazon rainforest owes much of its soil to the Bodele Depression.

Images & Animations


File Dimensions

  • 720x480
  • JPEG
  • 7600x8800
  • JPEG 6 MB
  • 7600x8800
  • GeoTIFF 144 MB
  • KMZ 2 KB

Note: Often times, due to the size, browsers have a difficult time opening and displaying images. If you experiece an error when clicking on an image link, please try directly downloading the image (using a right click, save as method) to view it locally.


  • Data Date:

    January 9, 2011
  • Visualization Date:

    January 12, 2011
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration