Dust storms are quite common in the dry and windy regions of Central Asia. However, it is rare for dust to cover the sky of such a large city as, for example, Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, it happened on Friday 5 November. NASA satellites observed the cloud of pollution.
A vast dust cloud was created by the anticyclone. The element brought winds of 70-90 kilometers per hour to the capital of Uzbekistan. Due to the dust, visibility dropped to 200 meters.
According to the local meteorological agency, the level of PM10 particulate matter has increased to 18,000 micrograms per cubic meter. At times, the concentration of pollutants was 30 times higher than the legal limit in Uzbekistan. The air quality has never been so bad in 150 years of research, it added.
Dust cloud in satellite photos
Moreover, the dust cloud has been observed from space. On November 4, one of NASA’s satellites captured massive plumes of pollution approaching Tashkent. Some of the dust came from arid farmlands, pastures and meadows north-east of Kazakhstan in the Turkistan region. The next day, the streaks turned into a vast cloud that enveloped a large part of the region.
“If the measurements were correct, it was really extreme conditions and there were very dangerous levels of particulate matter for the urban area,” said Thomas Gill, an atmosphere scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso. – The highest level of PM10 dust ever recorded in El Paso – one of America’s most polluted cities – was around 5,000 micrograms per cubic meter. So the concentration from Uzbekistan was almost four times greater. This may be one of the highest values of this dust ever detected in any city, he added.
The situation was also significantly influenced by the drought that Uzbekistan has been facing for many months. In early summer, reports of record high temperatures and livestock dying from it were reported.
Main photo source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov