Tan clouds of airborne dust obscured the Persian Gulf when the Terra MODIS instrument flew over the region to collect this image on January 7, 2005. The dust is blowing out of Iraq and Iran in the northwest where winds were reported to be blowing at 13 kilometers per hour (8 mph) near the coast. MODIS also detected a few scattered fires in the region, which have been marked with red dots.
Because of the relatively sparse vegetation in the region, dust storms are fairly commonplace. Without the roots of widespread vegetation and regular rainfall to help compact the soil, winds can easily pick it up and transport it for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. While this process is natural (and in some cases beneficial to certain plants' reproductive processes), these airborne particles can have a negative impact on the climate and human health. For more information on how aerosols interact with the climate, please read the Aerosols and Climate Change."
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