Forces of Change
Seattle Sandwicher headline A Fine Kettle of Fish
Galloping Gobi!
Dust from Asia is seen streaming eastward toward the Pacific Ocean in this satellite view, where red is the highest concentration of dust.
Photo © Colin Seftor (Raytheon) and Christina Hsu (UMBC)

Pumping Iron

Dust from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia is rich in iron. Every spring it travels over China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan to the North Pacific. Settling in the ocean, the iron-fortified dust sparks explosive growth in ocean plants called phytoplankton and creates a “phytoplankton bloom.” Fish thrive on the small marine animals attracted to the phytoplankton feast.

Great Catch

While Beijing chokes, fisherman in the Kuril Islands north of Hokkaido, Japan, and at Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market benefit from the rich fishing grounds of the North Pacific that are fertilized by Gobi Desert dust.

Moving Desert
Moving Desert
As much as one million tons of fine, brown grit blow into Beijing (right) from Mongolia every March. It’s called shachenbao, or dust cloud tempest.
Photo © Paul Ostapuk
Asian Dust Storm
Asian Dust Storm
This view of an Asian dust storm was captured by the SeaWiFS satellite (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor) orbiting 705 km (437 m) above Earth.
Courtesy of NASA/Modis Rapid Response Team