Dust storm in Alaska captured by Aqua/MODIS on Nov. 17, 2013 at 21:45 UTC.
When glaciers grind against underlying bedrock, they produce a silty powder with grains finer than sand. Geologists call it “glacial flour” or “rock flour.” This iron- and feldspar-rich substance often finds its ways into rivers and lakes, coloring the water brown, grey, or aqua. When river or lake levels are low, the flour accumulates on drying riverbanks and deltas, leaving raw material for winds to lift into the air and create plumes of dust.
Scientists are monitoring Arctic dust for a number of reasons. Dust storms can reduce visibility enough to disrupt air travel, and they can pose health hazards to people on the ground. Dust is also a key source of iron for phytoplankton in regional waters. Finally, there is the possibility that dust events are becoming more frequent and severe due to ongoing recession of glaciers in coastal Alaska.
To read more about dust storm in this region go to: earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=79518
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team
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