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Out of Africa

Dust has long blown across the Atlantic from Africa, but only during the past several decades of satellite observations have we begun to appreciatethe vast scale of these events. Estimates of the dust transported run to hundreds of millions of tons per year, yet we still know relatively little about the effects of this dust on phytoplankton productivity, climate, and human health.

The above composite was constructed from 7 orbits of VIIRS data collected on August 1, 2013. (Roll your pointer over the image for help distinguishing the dust from the similar-looking streaks of sun glint.) The image is available at three resolutions.