Satellites tracked a monstrous dust trail from the Sahara over the Atlantic

The Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission is working on air pollution monitoring, and project satellites have caught a giant trail of sand from the Sahara, moving west through the Atlantic Ocean on June 19, 2020.

Each summer, the wind carries large quantities of sand particles from the dry Sahara desert in northern Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. The data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and the ESA Aeolus satellite show the scale of this year’s summer dust flow, dubbed “Godzilla” due to size.

Such storms usually form between late spring and early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August. A large amount of dust particles from the African desert is swept into the dry air by strong winds near the ground and thunderstorms. Winds in the higher troposphere then transport sand across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the United States.

Although this meteorological phenomenon occurs every year, the June 2020 plume is considered unusual due to its size and distance traveled. According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory of NOAA, dust emissions were about 60–70% more powerful than usual. Moreover, the train broke all meteorological records for 20 years.