Hold your breath!
This massive dust plume floating over the ocean can be seen from space.
NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor
Last year, a massive cloud of dust made its way from the Sahara desert all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA named it ‘Godzilla.’
NASA via Tumblr
Now, Godzilla’s back.
Well, a new version of it.
NASA just spotted another massive dust cloud beginning its journey from Africa to the Americas.
It’s so big that it can be seen from space.
While dust clouds traveling from the Sahara aren’t a new phenomenon, last year’s Godzilla plume was the biggest on record across the last two decades.
Researchers aren’t sure.
And climate change, which contributes to higher temps and altered wind patterns, makes answers less clear cut.
NASA actually predicted in April that rising ocean temperatures, along with changing wind speeds, would lead to less dust flying up from the Sahara.
But with higher temperatures globally, places like the Sahara will become even drier. This could potentially lead strong winds to sweep up even more loose dust.
Changes to the plumes will undoubtedly affect life in ways we don’t understand yet.
BBC via Giphy
For example: Dust plumes carry phosphorous, an essential nutrient for marine life and the Amazon rainforest.
But they also feed toxic algae blooms, like the red tide off the coast of Florida.
Yentl en de Boer via Giphy
And too much dust can worsen air quality, causing dangerous conditions for those on land with sensitive lungs.
Observations also suggest there’s a relationship between the size of the dust plumes and hurricane intensity.
Strong westward winds from the north African coast can spur the beginnings of hurricanes. But dry dust plumes can also suppress their intensity.
Only time will tell how the dust will settle — and if this year’s plume will top Godzilla’s size.
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