Early this month, Iraq looked more like Frank Herbert's Arrakis. Giant dust storms choked the country, sending people to hospitals and interfering with travel for a week. NASA's Aqua satellite captured some impressive images showing the scale of the storms.


In this detail from the image, you can see where Baghdad is supposed to be. But the city is entirely obscured by dust. So are most of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Dust storms are not uncommon for the hotter months in Iraq. A recent drought has made the land drier than usual, giving the seasonal summer winds more fuel for violent and dramatic storms like these.

NASA has also provided a short animation showing how the storm developed over a huge area. Now all the middle east needs to fully resemble Dune are giant sand-worms and complex politics. Or maybe just the worms.

Dust Storm over Iraq [NASA Earth Observatory]


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