Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

Australia’s unprecedented bushfire season has attracted widespread attention around the world, destroying a number of towns and putting the lives of millions of animals at risk,media reported. It is understood that this extreme weather event is due to a long period of drought, although thanks to the heavy rainfall over the past three days, burning fires across the country have subsided but the drought in the continent still triggered other extreme weather events.

Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

On January 11th, local time, thick dust has been accumulating inside the continent since mid-January, according to data captured by NASA’s MODIS satellite. According to NASA, wind energy blows tiny dust particles into the air due to dry weather conditions. Professor Patrick De Deckker, of the Australian National University, said it was the largest dust storm to hit the area since 2009.

On January 19, the dust arrived in New South Wales and hit the regional centre 250 miles (400km) northwest of Sydney. Pictures and videos of the sandstorm have since gone viral on social media.

Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

As she drove to the town of Negan, 100 miles northwest of Dubbo, local resident Grace Behsman had to pull over because the storm quickly reached the location of her car, and in an instant her surroundings changed from day to night.

Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

In addition, the dust reached Parks, home to the iconic radio telescope, which is understood to have sent images of the first moon landings around the world.

Shocking scene: Australia hit by massive sandstorm

Due to the lack of vegetation, it is not difficult to conclude that this abnormal sandstorm is related to bare land.

“Sandstorms affecting the central and western regions of New South Wales are a direct result of a two-year drought and a widespread reduction in soil surface vegetation,” said Stephen Cattle, a soil scientist at the University of Sydney.

Cattle said a single event could only take away “one or two millimetres of surface soil” but could lead to potential loss of plant nutrients from the soil. Over time, this impact will intensify, thereby reducing the productive potential of the land.

In addition, he explained, these huge storms often occur after the dry period. With climate change affecting temperatures and rainfall across Australia, Cattle believes Australia is likely to see more of these dust storms in the future.