Dust, salt and smoke swirling in the air tell a story of summer 2017.
Tiny particles in the atmosphere travel in leisurely swirls on air currents across the globe. Often microscopic, three of these aerosols are visualized by a computer model that shows the voyages of sea salt (blue), dust (brown), and smoke (white) during the 2017 hurricane season. Off the coast of Africa, sea salt and dust show the formation of hurricanes as winds curl them into a cyclone. As these storms travel across the Atlantic Ocean and intensify, the amount of sea salt increases dramatically. At the same time dust from the Sahara Desert gets caught in water droplets and rains down into the ocean. In the Pacific Northwest, smoke from wildfires gets caught in weather that transports it all the way to Europe. The Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center created this visualization using the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) computer model. When combined with data from NASA’s satellites, the model becomes a tool for scientists to fully understand aerosols’ impact and how they fit into the global Earth system. Watch the video to learn more.