NASA images by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
A difficult fire season in western Canada brought its impacts to coastal city streets in early July 2015. A thick pall of smoke settled over Vancouver and adjacent areas of British Columbia, leading some residents to wear face masks and health officials to warn residents and World Cup tourists against outdoor activities.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these images in the late morning on July 5 and 6. Note how the tan and gray smoke almost completely obscures the Strait of Georgia and southern Vancouver Island. Winds shifted abruptly between July 5 and 6, driving the smoke plume toward the east, dispersing it in some places while fouling the air in areas to the east, such as the Fraser Valley. Read more
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.
Spring and summer are the prime seasons for dust storms in China’s Taklimakan Desert. On April 1, 2015, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of dust from the desert and from the greater Tarim Basin.
The Tarim is bordered by the Tian Shan mountains to the north (obscured by clouds in this image) and the Kunlun Shan mountains to the south. The basin opens up on its east side, but that’s not necessarily an escape route for dust. The prevailing low-altitude winds come from the east, keeping most dust below 5 kilometers—about the height of the mountain ranges—and confined to the desert. Read more
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.
The natural-color satellite image below offers both a modern and historical context. Captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, it shows heavy pollution heading toward Beijing, China, on December 12, 2013. If satellites had been flying in the first half of the 20th century, it’s reasonable to assume that skies over the eastern United States or Europe would have looked something like this on some days. Read more
Dust and sand storms are not unusual in North Africa and western Asia; in fact, they are a regular part of the region’s rhythm and observed often by satellites. But familiarity does not make them any less extraordinary.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image at 11:25 a.m. local time (0825 Universal Time) on July 7, 2014. A thick plume of dust was blowing out from the dry interior of Sudan and across hundreds of kilometers of the Red Sea, with smaller plumes also visible over Saudi Arabia and Eritrea. Prevailing northwest winds over the water blew the plumes to the southeast. Read more
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
Due to elevated seismic activity, the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia issued an alert for Sangeang Api—an island volcano in the Flores Sea—on May 21, 2014. Sangeang erupted explosively on May 30, sending a thick column of ash and sulfur dioxide billowing into the atmosphere.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured imagery of the eruption plume the next day. Terra acquired this image at 2:35 UTC (10:35 a.m. local time) on May 31, 2014. Ash drifted southeast, shutting down airports in Bima, Indonesia, and Darwin, Australia. Service to Darwin resumed by June 1, but Bima remained shut down as of June 2, according to the Jakarta Globe. Read more
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.