This video was taken by a U.S. Army serviceman in Al Asad, Iraq, I believe in April 2005. I was reading something about sand storms the other day and realized that I had never actually seen video of one, so that’s what got me looking, and how I happened upon this amazing video.
Sand storms are caused by a front or gust of wind stirring up loose sand particles which become suspended in the air. That sounds pretty straightforward, but a sand storm is actually a pretty freaky occurrence. For example, the friction of so many sand grains rubbing against each other causes a lot of static electricity, meaning that sand storms have their own electrical field. Convection currents within a storm can lift colossal amounts of sand 20,000 feet in the air. In addition to fouling everything (especially machinery or vehicles), sand storms can strip fields dry of crops and ruin water sources, and thus are extreme environmental hazards.
Sand storms have become an ominous harbinger of climate change. Their incidence has increased dramatically since the middle of the 20th century, especially in Africa. As global warming turns more and more vegetated land into desert, sand storms now arise where they were unknown before. As if we needed more reminders of the perils of climate change.