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Sahara Sand above West Europe

Northern Africa & Western Europe

Date of acquisition:    March 15th, 2022  |  10:26:09 UTC

Sensor:   Sentinel-3B OLCI

Coordinates:    44°N, 3°W

Due to a southerly air flow from the Sahara over the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, the Bay of Biscay and France, but also under the influence of a small low-pressure area located over southern Portugal, a high concentrated cloud of sand rose from the Sahara towards Western Europe. For central and western Europe, the direct transport from the Sahara sand from south of the Atlas Mountains is a normal and recurring weather phenomenon in spring and in early summer.

Saharan dust consists of tiny particles of mineral dust, averaging only five to ten micrometres in size. They can rise into the atmosphere to a height of up to five kilometres and stay there for up to six months if there is no wind. Due to its mineral composition of quartz sand, clay, goethite, gypsum and fossilized algae, the sand has excellent fertilizer qualities.

However, this time the dimension and range of the dust cloud was extraordinary and caused some headlines in the newspapers.

Images contain modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2022].