Persistent Dust Storms Batter Iraq

Iraq Dust Storm May 16, 2022 Annotated

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May 16, 2022

At least eight main occasions in Iraq have darkened skies and sickened folks previously six weeks.

Iraq and different international locations of the Middle East have been battered by a sequence of extreme mud storms for the reason that starting of April 2022. Thousands of individuals have been hospitalized because of two extreme storms within the final two weeks, since poor air high quality from airborne mud might worsen bronchial asthma and different respiratory issues.

As visibility decreased to a couple hundred meters, the skies over Baghdad, Najaf, Sulaimaniyah, and different Iraqi cities turned orange. Several airports had been closed through the main mud occasions, and colleges had been closed throughout the nation. Government workplaces in seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces had been shuttered, and a number of other governors declared states of emergency.

The natural-color pictures on this article had been acquired with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) devices on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The image at the top was captured by Aqua MODIS on May 16, 2022, while the image below comes from Terra MODIS on May 5.

Iraq Dust Storm May 2022 Annotated

May 5, 2022

Dust storms in Iraq are most common in late spring and summer, provoked by seasonal winds such as the “shamal” that blows in from the northwest. Researchers suggested in a 2016 paper that La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific can lead to an earlier onset of shamal winds. Recent observations suggest that La Niña may be persisting into a third consecutive year.

Those strong seasonal winds blow across abundant sources of dust. According to The World Bank, northern Iraq—between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—has the highest density of dust sources in the Middle East.

News media reported that Iraq has been hit by at least eight dust storms in the past six weeks. Researchers have found that dust events have become more frequent in Iraq. The country has been facing drought conditions in recent years, as well as land-use changes and overuse that mean there is more loose soil available to be lofted into the atmosphere. The World Bank cited Iraq as one of the countries most vulnerable to desertification and climate change.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.

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