Saharan Dust Cloud Strikes United States | The Institute for Creation Research
Saharan Dust Cloud Strikes United States
Recently, the southeastern United States was hit by a huge cloud of dust from the Sahara desert that drifted across the Atlantic Ocean. A second such cloud arrived soon after.1,2

These Saharan dust clouds are actually quite common, but this plume is one of the most extreme ever recorded.3

Unfortunately, these dust clouds have the potential to irritate peoples’ respiratory systems, and some locations have seen dramatic decreases in air quality. Experts recommend that people with chronic lung conditions should stay inside, keep their windows and doors closed, and should run their air conditioning units, but with the fresh-air intake closed.4

On the bright side, however, experts think that these dust clouds can inhibit hurricane formation. They also produce spectacular sunsets for reasons explained below.3

This dust causes the sky to have a whitish haze for a similar reason that molecules in the atmosphere cause the sky to appear blue.5 Light from the sun is basically white in color, as you can verify by looking at photographs showing the sun taken from the International Space Station. This white light is composed of all the colors of the visible spectrum. For simplicity, you can think of white light as being composed of equal parts of red, blue, and green light. The blue light has a shorter wavelength than the green light, while the red light has the longest wavelength of all. Molecules in the atmosphere (mainly nitrogen and oxygen) scatter all the colors, but they preferentially scatter blue light the most.

By the way, this is also the reason the noonday sun appears yellow. Subtracting blue light from the sun’s white light leaves behind red and green light to reach your eyes directly. Since red and green light make yellow light, your eyes perceive the sun as being yellow in color. (Of course, you should never look directly at the sun without appropriate protective gear.)

Sunsets and sunrises appear reddish in color because at dawn and dusk, light from the sun has to travel through a greater thickness of atmosphere to reach your eyes than when the sun is high in the sky. For this reason, more of the green light is also scattered in addition to the blue, and the remaining red light directly reaches your eyes, giving the sunset its reddish tint.

Pollutants in the air enhance this effect, which is why dust storms like the recent one from the Sahara are accompanied by brilliant, beautiful sunsets. As the Scriptures say, “You [the Lord] make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.”6

References
1. Madani, D. Massive Sahara Desert dust cloud reaches America’s south. NBC News. Posted on nbcnews.com June 27, 2020, accessed June 29, 2020.
2. Dolce, C. Another Round of Saharan Dust is Headed for the U.S. Gulf Coast This Week. The Weather Channel. Posted on weather.com June 29, 2020, accessed June 29, 2020.
3. Harvey, C. Saharan Dust Plume Slams U.S., Kicking Up Climate Questions. Scientific American. Posted on scientificamerican.com June 26, 2020, accessed June 29, 2020.
4. McCleary, K. Georgia officials warn of potential health problems linked to Saharan dust cloud. CNN. Posted on cnn.com June 28, 2020, accessed June 29, 2020.
5. Hewitt, P. G. Conceptual Physics, 10th ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson, 521-524.
6. Psalm 65:8.

*Dr. Jake Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
The Latest
NEWS
Venus May Be Geologically Active
Using computer simulations, a team of researchers has concluded the planet Venus could still be geologically active.1,2 The scientists used...

NEWS
Nose-Horned Lizard: Extinct, or Hiding for 129 Years?
Did Modigliani’s striking lizard—a variety of Agamidae “dragon lizard”—go extinct, or has it just been hiding in Indonesia...

NEWS
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Next Week
Both amateur and professional stargazers have an opportunity to see a little more of God’s glory revealed in the heavens1 next week. The...

NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...