There’s been quite a bit of buzz about the dust storm in Australia that hit Queensland, New South Wales, and NSW city Sydney on September 23rd. Pictures like the ones below have been all over the web.
But it is the photos taken from space that are the most interesting I think. NASA’s Earth Observatory captured a truly amazing photo that shows the dust storm front as it swept across the continent and headed out to sea over eastern Australia where the borders of Queensland and NSW meet.
That dust headed to sea has an unappreciated benefit – it will fertilize the ocean with its mineral rich dust. There may be some interesting blooms of sea life in the weeks to come.
There’s also a cool Google Earth KML file to download and use with the space imagery.
download Google Earth file (1 KB, KML)
Here’s what the Google Earth file will do – overlay the cities and borders. This is a very wide zoom from Brisbane to Sydney. Using the Google Earth KML file and zooming in further yields much more detail.
NASA narrative for this image: A wall of dust stretched from northern Queensland to the southern tip of eastern Australia on the morning of September 23, 2009, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image. The dust is thick enough that the land beneath it is not visible. The storm, the worst in 70 years, led to canceled or delayed flights, traffic problems, and health issues, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News. The concentration of particles in the air reached 15,000 micrograms per cubic meter in New South Wales during the storm, said ABC News. A normal day sees a particle concentration 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter.
Strong winds blew the dust from the interior to more populated regions along the coast. In this image, the dust rises in plumes from point sources and concentrates in a wall along the front of the storm. The large image shows that some of the point sources are agricultural fields, recognizable by their rectangular shape. Australia has suffered from a multiple-year drought, and much of the dust is coming from fields that have not been planted because of the drought, said ABC News.
- The high-resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ full spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at additional resolutions.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. (2009, September 23). Dust settles as storm rolls north. Accessed September 23, 2009.
- NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek.
As WUWT reader Keith Minto writes:
This is the best image I can find of the dust storm that passed over eastern Australia. NASA has images from 12 Sept showing it coming from Lake Eyre. Apparently when lakes dry after having water they leave behind very fine particles that is carried up & stays up. Seems that this is a world wide phenomenon, when lakes fill and empty completely and nothing to do with the dreaded Climate Change. In other words, if the lakes did not fill, and the drought was worse, then this might not have happened! Pity the newspapers did not report this….took me all of 5minutes to piece this together. The earlier image shows the dust originating in Lake Eyre and moving east out into the Tasman sea towards New Zealand, and as far as the media was concerned it did not happen. It’s the old story, if an event does not touch large cities it is a non event.
Sept 12th MODIS image from NASA showing dust from Lake Eyre: