Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT
Dust Storm off West Africa
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Dust Storm off West Africa

May 4, 2010
This image, captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on April 28, 2010, shows a dust storm off the coast of West Africa. Some six days prior, the storm was blowing over the Sahara. The island chain at the top of the image is the Canaries.

Dust plays an important role in ocean ecosystems. Dust is a source of iron, a key nutrient for tiny plant-like organisms—phytoplankton—that grow in the sun-lit surface waters of the ocean. Phytoplankton are the base of the marine food chain.