The Hot Desert – Sahara
Deserts are the large barren arid regions which has a very limited vegetation with extreme low or high temperatures. Sahara desert is the largest and hottest desert of world covering area of 8.54 million sq.km . It is located in North Africa. The Sahara desert is spread over eleven countries which are Sudan, Niger, Libya ,Egypt, Chad , Algeria, Mali, Morocco , Mauritania , Tunisia and Western Sahara. This is the hottest desert in the whole world. It has the most harshest climate. This desert receives less than 1 inch of rainfall annually. Though Sahara is named as hottest of all, the temperature drops all of a sudden to less than -5oc. Sahara desert covers 8% of total land area of earth.
Sahara desert is not only covered with sand but large part of it is covered with rocky plateaus , dry valleys and gravel plains. These surfaces are even more than 2500m high at certain places. It is said that long long back, Sahara is a green plain region with rivers and animals like elephants , sheep, goat , crocodiles, cattle and all other animals. But this region turned into arid and hot region due to climate change. In the latter years, the skeletons of some of these animals were also found.
There are seasonal rivers and streams flowing over Sahara. River Nile and Niger are the rivers which flows all year round. A volcano is also located in Chad region in Tibetan mountains , which is the highest peak of Sahara desert.
Climate in Sahara is arid with intense heat. The temperature in a day may reach 50oc or even more. The highest temperature of the world is 58oc recorded here. The temperature during day time is extremely high . In summers, this temperature may go beyond 55oc with low humidity . During nights of winter season temperatures falls below 0oc. Due to the scorching heat temperature, the sand and rocks are heated up resulting , it radiates heat which makes surroundings hot.
Flora and Fauna
Flora in Sahara desert includes cactus, acacia. In certain regions, there are green islands in addition to date palms and tamarisk. Flowering plants grow quickly. After rain, the seeds fall off. They wait for the next rainfall to grow again.
Fauna in Sahara include camels, foxes, hyenas, jackals and scorpions. There are also a large variety of lizards and snakes including cobra are found in this desert. Birds such as ostriches , Nubian bustards are also found. Crocodiles are also found in certain regions where there is availability of water. Ants and beetles are also common in this desert.
It is assessed that the total population of Sahara is under 2million people. Though majority of the area is empty, most communities live where there is availability of water. These are permanently settled communities. Some people move from place to place depending on the availability of water. There are different communities living in Sahara regardless of extremely harsh climate.
Bedouins and Tuaregs are some of the communities. These groups rear livestock for living which include camels, goats, sheep. They obtain milk, leather, hair from these animals. Items such as Belts, water bottles are made using leather and the hair of these animals. They also make cloths and blankets and mats. They protect themselves with robes from the dust storms. In certain areas , where there is availability of water , people cultivate date palm, wheat, pomegranate and other vegetables. Rice, barley and cotton is also grown in certain regions. Egyptian cotton is famous world wide for its cotton.
Question 1: How is the landscape of Sahara changing?
- Trucks will be used in the place of camels as transportation.
- Tuaregs tribal started being guides to the foreign tourists.
- Nomadic people are moving to the cities to find jobs in oil and gas industries
- Super highways are laid and large glass buildings have also been constructed.
Question 2: Why is vegetation so limited in deserts?
- Vegetation is mostly depended on the climate and the nature of the soil. As the deserts have extremely low or high temperatures, this does not support the growth of vegetation.
- As the atmosphere is dry and there is very limited rainfall, these situations does not help to the growth of vegetation.
- As the land in deserts is either covered with sand or snow, this does not support the growth of vegetation. Water is the prominent requirement for the growth of flora.
Question 3: What is oasis and discuss its features.
Oasis is a fertile land which is the source of freshwater in a desert. Water is very limited here and it is to be consumed carefully. Dates , wheat, olives are some of crops grown in this fertile land.
- Availability of water
- Growth of certain plants and animals also live here.
- Irrigation help cultivation in oasis.
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