Godzilla dust cloud travels from the Sahara to the Americas

Hyperaxion Jun 25, 2020

The event occurs every year and is essential for the balance of the global ecosystem. In 2020, however, it is happening at its greatest intensity in the last 50 years.

Last Monday (22), a dust cloud from the Sahara Desert, in North Africa, reached the Caribbean, in Central America. The cloud, called “Godzilla”, is the largest and most intense of the last 50 years and now heads towards North America.

Godzilla dust cloud travels from the Sahara to the Americas
(Credit: NASA / NOAA).

“According to scientists that I have gotten some information from, they’re saying this is an abnormally large dust cloud,” meteorologist Dan Kottlowski told AccuWeather. “One of the things I noticed from this is the dust started coming off the coast of Africa several days ago, in fact maybe over a week ago. And it’s still coming. It’s almost like a prolonged area of dust.”

This extremely dry and dusty air mass is known as the Saharan Air Layer. It forms over the Sahara Desert and, caught by the winds and elevated to the atmosphere, is dragged across the North Atlantic.

Satellite image captured on June 16, 2020. (Credit: NASA / NOAA).

According to reports by meteorologists to the Associated Press (AP), the event occurs every three or five days, from late spring to early fall in the Northern Hemisphere, reaching its peak during the months of June, July, and until the beginning of August. The layer can reach 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) in thickness.

This dust is fundamental for the functioning of our planet and for the maintenance of life on Earth. In addition to providing the sand responsible for the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, it also contains important nutrients that fertilize the soil of the Amazon Rainforest.

Animation shows dust moving from the Sahara Desert. (Credit: NASA / NOAA).

This year’s cloud, however, is larger than normal and is affecting air quality in several cities in Central and North America. According to the AP, health officials in several Caribbean countries have asked people to stay at home so they are not affected by the dust, which can cause or aggravate respiratory problems – something of even greater concern due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, Saharan dust can suppress tropical storms, further worsening air quality. “It keeps a lid on the atmosphere and brings dry air into anything that may try to develop, which is very detrimental for tropical development which relies on warm, moist air,” said Alan Reppert, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

(Credit: NASA / NOAA).

Related topics:

Sahara

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