Dust Storms

Dust Storms

BY : Rhiannon Nevinczenko

Dust storms from the Sahara lift and ferry the nutrient-rich dust far across the Atlantic ocean, providing fertilizer for phytoplankton, such as diatoms and algae. These microscopic organisms are essential oxygen producers that hold up the weight of ocean ecosystems (and, by extension, terrestrial ecosystems as well). These tiny organisms produce a substantial amount of our oxygen, with estimates upwards of 50%. In the image, you can see the dust from one of these storms (the wispy clouds of sand). Beneath them, bright green swirls in an otherwise near black ocean give away the phytoplankton blooming. The impact of the dust storm extends well beyond these blooms, as it also provides fertilizer for the Amazon rainforest (another immense source of oxygen).
Image credit: The European Space Agency (ESA), CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

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