The Sahara is the most famous desert in the world. However, it is the desert that holds many secrets that scientists are trying to solve. Some of them will be discussed in this article.
Thanks to such facts, the ideas of many people about this desert can greatly change. What secrets does the Sahara hide under the layer of its sands?
The Sahara is not only a world of sand dunes
Many people think of this desert as consisting only of sand. In fact, it is not. Of course, the Sahara has many high sand dunes of bizarre shapes, and the landscape itself is quite sparse and consists of barchans, cacti, and tumbleweeds. However, sands occupy only 15% of the Sahara, the main landscape is the rocky plateaus. It also has its own unique vegetation and animal inhabitants.
Although the region is really not rich in animals, there are about 4 thousand species, among which there are mammals: hamsters, muskrats, antelopes, pheneks, jackals, barch cats and mongooses. Most of these inhabitants lead a nocturnal lifestyle.
During the day they hide in the shelters from the scorching sun. That’s because the temperature regime of the desert tends to great changes during the day. During the day the thermometer mark rises above 30°C, and at night it drops to 0 and sometimes even to -10°C.
This is how one of the tourists describes his feelings:
“It’s an amazing place! The landscapes with endless sands and dunes are simply fascinating, it’s impossible to take your eyes off of them. The sand here is not the same as everywhere else: it’s silky to the touch, very bright and very thin. And what sunsets are here! The sun “falls” over the horizon in the blink of an eye – darkness just falls on you a black “blanket”. It’s definitely worth a visit!”.
Of course, such a climate is not favorable for human living and most of the flora. However, scientists count about 30 species of plants on the territory of the Sahara. These are ferns, ficuses, cacti, xerophytes, dereza, feather grass, date palms.
Temperature fluctuations have a destructive effect even on rocks, which under their influence crack and turn into sands. Thus, the desert replenishes its sand layer, and it is quite deep – about 150 meters. This is certainly an impressive “blanket”!
However, the Sahara was not always like this. Climatologists claim that even some 10,000 years ago the Sahara territory was a fairly fertile plain.
This area was once home to grazing herds of animals. It was a green valley, which, due to drastic changes in the Earth’s climate, had turned into a valley of sands several times in the history of the planet.
But to uncover the most important secrets, one must go deep into the heart of this desert. Beneath the multitude of dunes lies the treasure of the Sahara.
Underground water as a real treasure of the Sahara
Although there is very little water on the surface of the desert due to low precipitation, there are extensive groundwater basins beneath its sands. It is thanks to these basins that oases – areas rich in vegetation – can be found in the Sahara.
Some countries located in the Sahara’s groundwater are engaged in the extraction of this invaluable liquid. The most fertile in this respect is the northeastern part of the desert, where Sudan, Chad, Egypt and Libya are located.
One of the Sahara oases.
The aquifer in Libya is more extensive. Groundwater has been extracted here since the 1970s. And in 1983, work began on a huge project, the purpose of which was to deliver drinking water to the dehydrated settlements of Libya.
A regular water supply for all major cities in the country was established by 1996. This grandiose system, called the Great Man-Made River, delivers 6.5 million cubic meters of drinking water every day. In 2008, it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest irrigation project.
The great man-made river consists of 1300 wells, more than 0.5 km deep, as well as numerous aqueducts and reservoirs. All this would have been impossible without the presence of the aquifer under the Sahara sand layer. It should be noted that this desert is much more generous to its inhabitants than it may seem at first sight.