Dust Storm over the Persian Gulf

A dust storm first imaged on April 16, 2003, had progressed south and east by April 17, and was draped over Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and Iran in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aqua satellite.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman

In the Persian Gulf, two tectonic plates-rigid pieces of the Earths crust-are colliding; the Arabian plate (lower left) is running up on the Eurasian plate (upper right). At lower left in the MODIS image is the younger Arabian plate, and it is moving northward to collide with the Eurasian plate. The Persian Gulf (top) and the Gulf of Oman (bottom) were once the site of a rift, a place where two plates pull apart from each other, and the Indian Ocean filled in the widening gap between the two plates; however, the process then reversed, and about 20 million years ago, the gulf began to close up. The collision of the two continental plates gives Iran its mountainous terrain. This image was made from data acquired on December 30, 2001.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Gulf of Oman Dust Storm

This dust blew out of Iran over the Gulf of Oman in this SeaWiFS image. The Persian Gulf is in the background.
Source: Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert, Iran)

The Dasht-e Kevir, or Great Salt Desert, is the largest desert in Iran. It is primarily uninhabited wasteland, composed of mud and salt marshes covered with crusts of salt that protect the meager moisture from completely evaporating. This image was acquired by Landsat 7s Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) sensor on October 24, 2000. This is a false-color composite image made using infrared, green, and red wavelengths. The image has also been sharpened using the sensors panchromatic band.
Source: Image provided by the USGS EROS Data Center Satellite Systems Branch

Konari, Iran

The Mand River and the small town of Konari nestle in the Zagros Mountains in western Iran. This image was acquired by Landsat 7s Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) sensor on February 2, 2000. This is a false-color composite image made using shortwave infrared, infrared, and green wavelengths. The image has also been sharpened using the sensors panchromatic band.
Source: Image provided by the USGS EROS Data Center Satellite Systems Branch. This image is part of the ongoing Landsat Earth as Art series.

Vanishing Marshes of Mesopotamia

Landsat satellite imagery reveals that in the last 10 years, wetlands that once covered as much as 20,000 square km (7,725 square miles) in parts of Iraq and Iran have been reduced to about 15 percent of their original size. Through the damming and siphoning off of waters from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the ecosystem has been decimated and, as a result, a number of plant and animal species face possible extinction. The top image is a false-color composite made from data collected by the Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) aboard Landsat from 1973-76. Four Landsat scenes were stitched together to make an image of the whole region. In this scene, dense marsh vegetation (mainly phragmites, or marsh grass) appears as dark red patches. The elongated red patches along the banks of the Shatt-al-Arab River are Date Palm groves. The Shatt-al-Arab begins where the Tigris and Euphrates meet and carries their waters southeastward into the Persian Gulf. The middle image shows the state of the marshlands on September 7, 1990, shortly after the Iran-Iraq war. This image was acquired by the MSS aboard Landsat 5. The scene reveals that a large eastern swath of the Central and Al Hammar Marshes as well as the northwestern and southern fringes of the Al Hawizeh Marsh (the large red areas immediately above and below the Euphrates River, running west to east toward the bottom of this scene) had dried out as a result of causeways constructed to ease military transport in otherwise difficult terrain. The bottom image is a false-color composite of data from the Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), acquired on March 26 and May 4, 2000. In this scene, most of the Central Marshes appear as olive to greyish-brown patches indicating low vegetation cover on moist to dry ground. The very light to grey patches are areas of exposed ground with no vegetation, which may actually be salt flats where before there were lakes. The Al Hawizeh Marsh (straddling the Iran-Iraq border just east of the Tigris River) appears to be all that remains of the regions natural wetlands, and it has been reduced in size by about half. Today, river flow into the Mesopotamian marshlands has been cut by 20-50 percent, and the spring floods that sustained the marshlands have been eliminated. The end result is what was once a lush wetland environment roughly the size of the state of New Jersey has been reduced by about 85 percent in area to roughly the size of the small island nation of the Bahamas. What was once a vast, interconnected mosaic of densely-vegetated marshlands and lakes, teeming with life, is now mostly lifeless desert and salt-encrusted lakebeds and riverbeds. For more information check out the Earth Observatorys Image of the Day entitled Vanishing Marshes of Mesopotamia
Source: Images courtesy Hassan Partow, UNEP; animation by Lori Perkins, NASA GSFC Science Visualization Studio, based on data from the Landsat 7 science team and the USGS EROS Data Center