Cyprus Dust Devil

November 04, 2008


Photographer: Agapios Elia
Summary Authors: Agapios Elia, Jim Foster

This composite image shows a dust devil on the island of Cyprus, near the capital city of Nicosia. It was well over 320 ft (100 m) in height and was the largest such dust devil I've encountered. I spotted it by while I was enjoying a hot afternoon on my veranda, which overlooks a good portion of Nicosia. This whirl of dust remained well structured long enough for me to go back inside and fetch my camera and tripod to capture a few shots. It didn’t exhibit much forward motion but it did swirl furiously, tossing loose, light-weight, objects hundreds of meters away. The sequence above spans 15 seconds.

Dust devils are formed when sunlight heats the air near the ground. If the atmosphere is convectively unstable, the heated air quickly rises. Surface dust is drawn inward, moving radially along the ground and into the spinning updraft. Dust devils can spin in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Photo taken about 4:26 p.m. May 31, 2008.

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