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10 dust storms as seen from space

By: Katherine Butler on Aug. 14, 2012, 6:04 p.m.
dust storm off Portugal

Photo: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

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Saharan dust off Portugal

This is a plume of dust swirling into the Atlantic Ocean as imaged by the MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite on April 6, 2011. You can also see a phytoplankton bloom in this photo. While dust can cause major havoc, it also has life-giving qualities. Dust carries iron, which fertilizes the world’s oceans; when waters are “iron-poor,” phytoplankton can proliferate.