Monitoring dust storms with recently available medium and moderate resolution satellites (Meris, Modis and SeaWiFS) is providing new global information regarding the sources, transportation tracks and affected areas. Saharan dust plumes reach the SE region of the United States and the Caribbean region in summer and the Amazon basin in winter. Generally these Saharan plumes branch off in dust tracks along the North Atlantic reaching Western Europe as far north as the Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, dust storms originating in the Eastern Sahara and Northern African deserts form dust plumes propagated by the Sirocco winds that, after crossing the Mediterranean Sea, affect Southern and Central Europe particularly during spring and summer.
Dust storms originating in the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts blow in an easterly direction propagating dust plumes affecting Korea, Japan and reach the United States after crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The large amount of cyclic deposition generated by dust storms produces an environmental impact that causes the decay of coral reefs in the Caribbean, the origin and distribution of red tides and the disappearance of sea grasses.
The relationship of dust plumes with the increasing number of asthma and allergy cases in the Caribbean correlates well with the appearance of similar cases in Europe and elsewhere during the mid 1980s. The recurrence presence of insecticides in regions where these products were banned long ago, or where they were never used, may be partly due to Saharan dust plumes.
The loss of agricultural soil, literally blown away by dust storms in the source areas, creates hardship, hunger and forced-migration. Dust storms should be considered as an important security issue.