Dust Storms

Dust storms can have an impact on human health, weather patterns as well as cause disruption through flight delays and the closure of highways. Data from NASA's Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) are used to monitor and predict dust storms. This information is used by agencies within the Department of Defense to improve resource allocation in remote areas and help promote aircraft safety.

Aerosol Optical Depth

Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) (or Aerosol Optical Thickness) indicates the level at which particles in the air (aerosols) prevent light from traveling through the atmosphere. Aerosols scatter and absorb incoming sunlight, which reduces visibility. From an observer on the ground, an AOD of less than 0.1 is “clean” - characteristic of clear blue sky, bright sun and maximum visibility. As AOD increases to 0.5, 1.0, and greater than 3.0, aerosols become so dense that sun is obscured. Sources of aerosols include pollution from factories, smoke from fires, dust from dust storms, sea salt, and volcanic ash and smog. Aerosols compromise human health when inhaled by people, particularly those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Aerosols also have an effect on the weather and climate by cooling or warming the earth, helping or preventing clouds from forming. Since aerosols are difficult to identify when they occur over different types of land surfaces and ocean surfaces, Worldview provides several different types of imagery layers to assist in the identification.

Product: Instrument (Platform)
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Description Browse imagery in Worldview
- MODIS (Terra)

- MODIS (Aqua)
- Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS (Terra)) L2 Aerosol, 5-Min Swath 10km

- MODIS (Aqua) L2 Aerosol, 5-Min Swath 10km

- MODIS (Terra/Aqua)

- MODIS (Aqua)

- MODIS (Terra)

- L3 Value-added Aerosol Optical Depth
MODIS (combined)

- MODIS (Aqua)


- MODIS (Terra)


MODIS (Terra/Aqua)


L2G Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) Land Aerosol Optical Depth
MODIS/Terra+Aqua Land Aerosol Optical Depth Daily L2G Global 1km SIN Grid


Corrected Reflectance Imagery

MODIS and VIIRS Corrected Reflectance imagery are available only as near real-time imagery. The imagery can be visualized in Worldview and Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS).


Information on MODIS Corrected Reflectance Imagery layers including:

  • Corrected Reflectance True Color (Bands 1-4-3),
  • Corrected Reflectance (Bands 3-6-7),
  • Corrected Reflectance (Bands 7-2-1).

Information on VIIRS Corrected Reflectance Imagery layers including:

  • Corrected Reflectance True Color (Bands I1-M4-M3),
  • Corrected Reflectance (Bands M3-I3-M11),
  • Corrected Reflectance (Bands M11-I2-I1).

For more on the difference between Corrected Reflectance and Surface Reflectance Imagery


Product: Instrument, Platform and Download Link


Browse imagery in Worldview

AIRS (Aqua)
The AIRS Dust Score science parameter is a parameter of the AIRS Level 1B Infrared quality assurance subset (AIRIBQAP_NRT). The AIRS Dust Score (Ocean, Day | Night) layer indicates the level of atmospheric aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere over the ocean. The numerical scale is a qualitative representation of the presence of dust in the atmosphere, an indication of where large dust storms may form and the areas that may be affected. Pixels where the dust score is less than 360 are not shown in Worldview/Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS). The imagery resolution is 2 km, sensor resolution is 45 km and the temporal resolution is daily. L1B IR quality assurance subset


Land Surface Reflectance

In comparison with the MODIS Corrected Reflectance product, the MODIS Land Atmospherically Corrected Surface Reflectance product (MOD09) is a more complete atmospheric correction algorithm that includes aerosol correction, and is designed to derive land surface properties.

Product: Instrument, Platform and Download Link


Browse imagery in Worldview

MODIS (Aqua) MYD09

MODIS (Terra) MOD09

doi:10.5067/MODIS/MYD09.NRT.006 (Aqua) and doi:10.5067/MODIS/MOD09.NRT.006 (Terra)

More information on MODIS Land Surface Reflectance Products including:

  • MODIS (Aqua/Terra) Land Surface Reflectance True Color (Bands 1-4-3)
  • MODIS (Aqua/Terra) Land Surface Reflectance True Color (Bands 7-2-1)
  • MODIS (Aqua/Terra) Land Surface Reflectance True Color (Bands 1-2-1)

VIIRS Land Surface Reflectance
The VIIRS Surface Reflectance provides continuity with the EOS-MODIS Land Surface Reflectance product.The Suomi NPP/VIIRS surface reflectance products are estimates of surface reflectance in each of the VIIRS reflective bands I1-I3, M1-M5, M7, M8, M10, and M11. Surface reflectance for each moderate-resolution (750m) or imagery-resolution (375m) pixel is retrieved separately for the Level-2 products and is obtained by adjusting top-of-atmosphere reflectance to compensate for atmospheric effects. Corrections are made for the effects of molecular gases, including ozone and water vapor, and for the effects of atmospheric aerosols. The inputs to the surface reflectance algorithm include top-of-atmosphere reflectance for the VIIRS visible bands (VNP02MOD, VNP02IMG), the VIIRS cloud mask and aerosol product (NPP-CMIP_L2), aerosol optical thickness (NPP_VAOTIP_L2, NPP_VAMIP_L2), and atmospheric data obtained from a reanalysis (surface pressure, atmospheric precipitable water, and ozone concentration). All surface reflectance products are produced for daytime conditions only.

Surface Reflectance Browse imagery

Coming soon


Dust storm over the Mediterranean

Visualize NRT data related to Dust Storms in Worldview

As described in an article from NASA's Earth Observatory, on February 7, 2018, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite acquired this image of dust from the Sahara blowing over the Mediterranean Sea toward southern Europe.

According to news reports, the dust was carried by winds known as the sirocco. (In North Africa, these same desert winds are known as “chrom” (hot) or “arifi” (thirsty). The warm, dry air mass begins over the Sahara, picks up moisture over the Mediterranean, and moves north toward areas of lower pressure along the coasts of Europe.

Last Updated
Jun 11, 2021