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NOAA satellite image of China dust stormApril 18, 2001 — A dust storm that began two weeks ago on the Mongolian-China border reached the U.S. this week, blanketing areas from Canada to Arizona with a layer of dust. In Denver and along the foothills of the Rockies, the mountains were obscured by the haze. Russ Schnell, director of observatory operations for NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., said the dust has been swirling in for a few days but is now on its way out of the Colorado area. "It's moving on now and is being diluted by clouds and weather systems. It was very unusual for this dust cloud to have hung together as long as it did," said Schnell. (Click NOAA satellite image of China dust storm March 29, 2001 for larger view. See links below for other imagery. Please credit NOAA.)

Satellite images show a thick, yellow swirl of dust streaming out across Korea and the Pacific Ocean. The plume that hung over the Colorado area was about four miles thick. Schnell said that events like this do carry urban pollution along with the dust as they move out over the Pacific. "Over the last few years, there has been a growing awareness that air pollution from China is affecting us," Schnell said. "Pollution is a global problem. Nature has sent us a perfect storm to reinforce the fact that we are all downwind of someone else's pollution."

Scientists from NOAA, the National Science Foundation and universities, were already in place conducting an experiment off the coast of Korea and Japan to study the air pollution and it's effect on climate. That study will continue for several more weeks.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory

ACE-Asia — Asian Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiments

NOAA, NSF and Partners Study Asian Air Particles

See NOAA satellite images at the following links.

Large view

Smaller view with text explanation

SeaWiFS (short for Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor) is a NASA satellite, with the Navy, NOAA and others, using the data.

NOAA Satellite Dust Imagery

Media Contacts:
Barbara McGehan, NOAA Research,Boulder, Colo., at (303) 497-6288 or Jana Goldman, NOAA Research, (301) 713-2483 ext. 181