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Sahara Dust was “‘one of the largest ever transfer of sand”, says Athens Observatory

One of the largest ever transfer of Sahara dust to Greece took place on Thursday, March22, the National Observatory in Athens said on Friday. Satellite images showed that the phenomenon was particular strong in the south part of the country.

The dust from the Sahara desert covered the whole country, the concentration of particles was the highest in the last decade, the Observatory said.

PM1o levels exceeded of 500 microgramms per cubic meter

  • PM10 is particulate matter 10 micrometers

Most affected was the island of Crete and especially the area of Irakleio, where the concentration reached unprecedented levels significantly limiting visibility and halted the operation of the local airport.

More than 25 people sought medical aid at the hospitals due to respiratory problems and allergies, local media reported.

Experts warned on Greek television channels that the Sahara dust coming from the center of Libya has also a high concentration of  smog particles and heavy metals. An expert said that was due to the air pollution in Cairo, Egypt.

The high concentration blocked the sun rays and limited the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground.

According to Athens Observatory, desert dust has a direct effect on the climate due to its interaction with the solar radiation but also indirectly due to its interaction with the clouds.

The dusty of desert sand is of particular interest because of its increased iron content. Iron is a nutrient for phytoplankton, which has been observed to be affected by the deposition of seaweed in the ocean. In addition to the obvious benefits to fishing, increased phytoplankton also affects the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases.

The studies of Saharan dust in our region will be intensified in the near future by the establishment of the Observatory of Geosciences and Climate Change in Antikythira by the National Observatory of Athens, the Athens Observatory statement said.

While the phenomenon move eastword on Friday, a new wave of Sahara dust is coming back to Greece with the increasing South winds, intensity 7-8 Beuafort, on Saturday.

The phenomenon is expected to affect Greece until the early morning hours of March 28th 2018.

According to local media, hale fell Saturday afternoon in Messaras, Fhiastos Municipality, Crete.

Thumbnail picture is from March 22 via

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