Home Science Sahara Desert dust plume set to drift over southern US states

Sahara Desert dust plume set to drift over southern US states

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Massive Sahara Desert dust plume set to drift over southern US states Tuesday could create stunning sunsets and pause tropical storm season

  • The cloud formed from winds sweeping sand from the Sahara Desert
  • Although massive in size, it is a rare occurrence during this time of year 
  • The plume is currently over the Atlantic and set to reach the US Tuesday
  • It could enhance sunsets and pause the tropical storm season for these areas 

A massive cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is blowing across the Atlantic Ocean and could drift over parts of the US as early as Tuesday.

The enormous plume was formed by strong winds sweeping tiny sand and mineral particles off the surface of the Sahara, but experts say the phenomenon is a normal occurrence this time of year.

Although the small particles could irritate those with respiratory issues, researchers note that the dust can also enhance sunsets and suppress tropical storm development.

Because tropical systems need moist air to form, the Sahara plume will create dry layers in the atmosphere that will ultimately pause cyclones from shaping.

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A massive cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is blowing across the Atlantic Ocean and could drift over parts of the US as early as Tuesday

The cloud likely formed in recent weeks as strong updrafts pushed sandy surface winds blowing across the desert higher into the atmosphere.

Experts call this higher region the Saharan Air Layer, which is between 5,000 and 20,000 feet above ground level, and is typically most active in the summer months, especially June and July, Newsweek reported

The plume is set to hit areas of South America and states along the southern region of the US including Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana.

The cloud is currently trekking across the Atlantic and is expected to blow over the US next Tuesday, while pulling some of the moisture from the air.

Meteorologist Chad Myers told CNN: ‘The dust is the visible part of the reduced tropical development potential area.’

Although the small particles could irritate those with respiratory issues, researchers note that the dust can also enhance sunsets and suppress tropical storm development

 Although the small particles could irritate those with respiratory issues, researchers note that the dust can also enhance sunsets and suppress tropical storm development

‘It is the dry air and additional vertical wind shear along with the dust that are the driving factors in limiting tropical storm development.’

The dust creates a very dry layer in the atmosphere, making it difficult for tropical weather systems to form.

Although these areas are in the early stages of their hurricane season, a few regions have already faced three named storms – and meteorologists predict a 60 percent chance of an above normal season.

However, experts are forecasting a slow tropical weather pattern over the Atlantic for at least the next two weeks while the plume hovers over the open ocean, MLive reports.

The dust is usually mostly dispersed by the time the cloud makes it to the US, which is what creates stunning sunsets.

The dust cloud (pictured is a satellite image) creates a very dry layer in the atmosphere, making it difficult for tropical weather systems to form.

The dust cloud (pictured is a satellite image) creates a very dry layer in the atmosphere, making it difficult for tropical weather systems to form.

Experts are forecasting a slow tropical weather pattern over the Atlantic for at least the next two weeks while the plume hovers over the open ocean

Experts are forecasting a slow tropical weather pattern over the Atlantic for at least the next two weeks while the plume hovers over the open ocean

Satellite images captured the cloud as it left the Sahara Desert, which is now making its way across the Atlantic

Satellite images captured the cloud as it left the Sahara Desert, which is now making its way across the Atlantic 

‘Saharan dust changes the regional climate by reflecting and absorbing the sunlight, which decreases the sea surface temperature,’ Texas A&M’s Bowen Pan said in an interview with Newsweek.

‘[This] decreases the energy supply to the storms. Additionally, dust also stabilizes the atmosphere.’

According to Bowen the dust can also be a benefit to local plant life when it settles on the ground and mixes minerals and chemicals from a new part of the world into the soil.

Past research has shown soil as far away as the Amazon rainforest has been enriched by dust particles originally blown up from the Sahara.



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