Dust in the Wind

  • Released Monday, August 27th, 2018
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:46PM
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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.

Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest and Canada curls westward over Alaska and sweeps east toward Europe.

Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest and Canada curls westward over Alaska and sweeps east toward Europe.

Saharan dust is swept into the outer cyclonic winds of tropical storm Irma. Rain at the center of the storm washes it out of the air.

Saharan dust is swept into the outer cyclonic winds of tropical storm Irma. Rain at the center of the storm washes it out of the air.

Sea salt picked up from the ocean twists into tropical cyclones in the Pacific and Atlantic, including Hurricanes Jose and Maria.

Sea salt picked up from the ocean twists into tropical cyclones in the Pacific and Atlantic, including Hurricanes Jose and Maria.

Over the North Atlantic (center), air carrying smoke (white) blows a spiral of sea salt out of shape toward Europe.

Over the North Atlantic (center), air carrying smoke (white) blows a spiral of sea salt out of shape toward Europe.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center