Air Pollution as Seen From the Skies
From Mt. Etna to China to the Sahara, these striking satellite images of air pollution are from both natural and man-made causes
- By Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian.com, April 20, 2010
Strong winds often blow across the Sahara Desert, lifting millions of tons of dust high into the air, where it can be transported north to Europe, as in this image, or across the Atlantic, as far away as the American Southwest. These storms direct valuable nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen and iron into the ocean, where they are taken up by marine organisms. Humans, however, can suffer from lung infections, asthma or respiratory illness after exposure to desert dust. The dust may also carry microscopic fungi or bacteria, which scientists suspect may be responsible for some of the coral reef decline in the Caribbean and outbreaks of human disease.