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Dust Storm off Morocco
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Dust Storm off Morocco

April 11, 2013
A long swath of dust, visible on the left portion of the image, is blowing from the Western Sahara into the Atlantic Ocean. The islands in the lower left are a part of the Canary Islands, a possession of Spain. Also visible is the Straight of Gibraltar, located in the upper right portion of the image. High winds carry sand from the erg, or sand dune deserts, of Morocco. Dust storms are a natural phenomenon and may “fertilize” the oceans and even the Amazon rain forest by carrying and depositing minerals over great distances. However, they are sometimes exacerbated by agriculture practices that contribute to soil erosion- a process called desertification. Projects are currently underway to remedy this problem by creating barriers to block to movement of sand and planting vegetation to keep sand in place. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz