At the online Spiegel magazine here science journalist and geology major Axel Bojanowski features his “Photo of the Week”, which this week shows a dust storm blowing across the East Atlantic off the African Sahara.
The above photo is provided by NASA Earth Observatory, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. It shows dust sweeping off the coast of Western Sahara and Morocco on August 7, 2015.
NASA writes that this is just one of several outbreaks of Saharan dust that have occurred over the Atlantic this summer. The US space agency adds this is even a positive effect on the hurricane season, in combination with another factor (my emphasis):
While several factors influence hurricane formation, some research suggests that plumes of dry Saharan dust may help suppress storms over the Atlantic Ocean. In a recent update to its hurricane outlook for the Atlantic Basin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said a below-normal season appeared even more likely than it did in May. A strengthening El Niño, an atmospheric environment conducive to strong wind shear, and below average sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic were cited as the primary factors limiting hurricane development. Dust outbreaks were not included as a factor because of their unpredictability, according to reporting by The Palm Beach Post.
Not only is the Saharan dust playing a role on dampening the Atlantic hurricane season, it is also transporting rich nutrients that are fertilizing the ocean, the Canary Islands and even the Caribbean and South American jungle, Spiegel writes.