[Video] NASA satellite reveals how much Saharan dust feeds Amazon’s plants


Rainforest Source: Pixabay

Mother Nature and her ways are mysterious. Every once in a while, Science provides evidence of how she tackles her problems and maintains the balance.

Imagine the Sahara Desert, the largest subtropical hot desert in the world and Amazon rainforests, world’s largest tropical rainforest. Even though they are polar opposites, they are inter-dependent on each other for their survival: the nutrients of the desert dust blows across the Atlantic and feeds the rainforest. Stunning new images and videos released by a NASA satellite, shows huge dust clouds swirling across the Atlantic from northern Africa to South America and it has quantified in three dimensions, how much of dust makes this trans-Atlantic journey.

Scientists at the Godard Flight Center tracked dust from the Bodele Depression in Chad, an ancient lake bed in the Saharan desert across the Atlantic to the Amazon rainforests. This lake bed is rich in minerals and is loaded with Phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth while this nutrient is in short supply in the Amazonian soils, due to leaching of nutrients by rainfall into streams and rivers. And Nature, does a perfect balancing act by replenishing this loss from rain and flooding with the 22,000 tons of phosphorous-laden dust from the Saharan desert.

A new paper published Feb. 24 in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, provides the first satellite-based estimate of this phosphorus transport over multiple years, said lead author Hongbin Yu, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Maryland who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

This is another reminder of how small our world is. How much we are inter-dependant on each other and on the earth’s resources for our survival. And what happens when this is disrupted. Time for some introspection.

The original publication can be accessed here.

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Categories: Environment

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