Eastern Australia Dust Storm

23 October 2002

MODIS satellite image, 23 October 2002 Dust storm, eastern Australia

MODIS satellite image, 23 October 2002
Dust storm, eastern Australia
© Geoscience Australia

This MODIS satellite image shows a severe dust storm which swept across parts of eastern Australia on 23 October 2002. This image was acquired by Geoscience Australia at approx 11am (EST) on 23 October 2002.

The dust storm is seen as a pale yellow band extending from the Gulf of Carpentaria, down across Queensland, towards the coastline and tapering off towards Sydney. The high-density section of this band was approximately 1,500 kilometres long, about 400 kilometres wide and about 2,500 metres high.

The dust storm was a result of drought conditions in eastern Australia caused by the 2002 El Nino event. Dust storms associated with El Nino events and other arid phases in Australia's climate are responsible for widespread blankets of wind blown dust or 'parna'. The thickest parna units in south-eastern Australia have been dated to arid conditions associated with the peak of the last ice age approximately 18,000 years ago.

Before and after

The MODIS image far left shows the eastern side of Australia before the dust storm. It was acquired by Geoscience Australia at approx 10am on 22 October 2002 from NASA's Terra satellite using one of the on-board sensors called MODIS. It is thus referred to as MODIS imagery.

The MODIS image closest left, acquired by Geoscience Australia, shows the dust storm moving towards New Zealand at approx 9:54am (EST) on 24 October 2002.

 
MODIS satellite image, 22 October 2002 Before the dust storm

MODIS satellite image, 22 October 2002
Before the dust storm
© Geoscience Australia

   
MODIS satellite image, 22 October 2002 After the dust storm

MODIS satellite image, 22 October 2002
After the dust storm
© Geoscience Australia

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 30, 2012