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The Sahara Desert’ The Biggest and Hottest Desert in the World

After the icy deserts of Antarctica and the Arctic, the Sahara desert is the biggest hot desert on earth and the third-largest desert overall.

With 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), or roughly the size of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) and occupying almost a third of the African continent, the Sahara desert is one of the toughest places on Earth.

The Encyclopedia Britannica claims that the Arabic word “ar,” which meaning “desert,” is the source of the desert’s name.

Also Read: The Mystery of the Pink Lake in Senegal Lac Rose also known as Lake Retba

The Sahara Desert' The Biggest and Hottest Desert in the World

What is the Sahara Desert Geography?

The Atlantic Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Sahel savanna all abutt the Sahara on its western, eastern, and northern borders, respectively.

The vast desert extends across ten nations (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia).

As well as the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that Morocco annexed in 1975, though the Indigenous Saharawi people dispute Morocco’s control of the area, according to a BBC report from 2021.

Although the Sahara desert contains many different types of terrain, its most well-known characteristic is its sand dune fields, which are frequently shown in films.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the dunes may reach heights of approximately 600 feet (183 meters), and they take up roughly 25% of the total desert.

Mountain ranges, plateaus, plains covered in sand and gravel, salt flats, basins, and depressions are further topographical characteristics.

The Sahara’s highest point, Emi Koussi, an extinct volcano in Chad, rises 11,204 feet (3,415 m) above sea level, while its lowest point, the Qattara Depression in northwest Egypt, is 436 feet (133 m) below sea level.

The Sahara desert features two permanent rivers (the Nile and the Niger), at least 20 seasonal lakes, and massive aquifers, which serve as the main water supplies for more than 90 significant oasis in the desert, despite the fact that water is rare throughout the whole region.

Authorities in charge of water management long believed that the aquifers under the Sahara were “fossil aquifers”—water reserves that amassed under various climatic and geological circumstances in the distant past—and they feared that these resources would soon run out owing to misuse.

But according to a 2013 research that was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters(opens in new tab), rain and runoff were still feeding the aquifers.

Also Read: Lake Natron In Tanzania’ The Medusa Water that turns Animals into Stone

Plants and Animals that Live in the Sahara Desert?

Many plant and animal species may be found in the Sahara despite its severe, desert environment.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Sahara is home to 500 plant species, 70 animal species, 90 bird species, 100 reptile species, and countless kinds of spiders, scorpions, and other tiny arthropods

Despite having North American roots, the camel is one of the most recognizable creatures of the Sahara desert.

According to research published in 2015 in the Research Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Management, the ancestors of modern camels first appeared about 45 million years ago.

The large mammals eventually made their way to the African continent by traveling across the Bering isthmus between 3 million and 5 million years ago.

According to the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, camels were domesticated around 3,000 years ago on the southeast Arabian Peninsula for use as a mode of transportation in the desert.

The Ships of the desert

According to the San Diego Zoo, camels, often known as the “ships of the desert,” are well adapted to the hot, dry climate of the Sahara desert.

Fat is stored in the camel’s humps, where it may be utilized as a source of energy and hydration in between meals.

Because of how well they store energy, camels may survive for more than a week without food and several months without water.

There are several other mammals that live in the Sahara, including gazelles, addaxes, cheetahs, caracals, desert foxes, and wild dogs.

Numerous kinds of snakes, lizards, and even crocodiles may survive and even thrive in the desert climate, if there is enough water.

According to the Sahara Conservation Fund, a number of arthropod species, including dung beetles, scarab beetles, “deathstalker” scorpions, and several varieties of ants, reside in the Sahara.

According to the BBC, plant species in the Sahara desert have adapted to the dry circumstances by developing deep subterranean roots to uncover hidden water sources and spine-shaped leaves to reduce moisture loss (opens in new tab).

While the Nile Valley and other oasis regions of the desert host a wide variety of plants, including olive trees, date palms, and other shrubs and grasses, the driest portions of the desert are virtually barren of any plant life.

Also Read: Facts About River Nile in Egypt’ The Longest River In The World

Climate

The Sahara desert now has a harsh desert environment. A 2019 research in the journal Science Advances found that it switches between a hard desert and another extreme — a lush, verdant paradise — every 20,000 years (opens in new tab).

The authors of the study looked at marine sediments that had been deposited with Saharan dust 240,000 years ago.

They discovered that the cycle between a dry and a green Sahara matched up with the minute variations in the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which also governs monsoon activity.

The Northern Hemisphere got more sunlight when Earth’s axis inclined it slightly closer to the sun (around 24.5 degrees instead of the current 23.5 degrees), which intensified the monsoon rains and, as a result, sustained a lush, green vegetation in the Sahara.

Prehistoric cave and rock paintings, along with other archaeological artifacts, have been uncovered by archaeologists, providing insight into life in the formerly lush Sahara.

Pottery fragments reveal that herders farmed plants and reared sheep in what is today a dry desert some 7,000 years ago.

Winds

But the Sahara desert’s environment has been dry and mostly steady for the past 2,000 years or so. The northern winds force scorching breezes toward the equator while removing moisture from the air above the desert.

These winds have the potential to produce catastrophic dust storms that can reduce nearby vision to nothing. Trade winds carry Saharan dust all the way to the other side of the world.

The Sahara experiences zero to around 3 inches (7.6 cm) of precipitation annually, according to data published in the American Meteorological Society journal in 2014.

Snow

Sometimes snow occurs at greater altitudes.

According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology Berkeley, temperatures in dry, arid deserts like the Sahara desert ranges from 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius) on average throughout the year.

Reaching as high as 120 F (49 C) in the summer during the day and dipping to 0 F (minus 18 C) during the winter at night (UCMP).

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Map of the Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is indicated in brown on the map below, which also depicts the land area and several nations that it crosses.

The Sahara Desert' The Biggest and Hottest Desert in the World

Desert of the Sahara

The only continuously flowing river in the Sahara desert is the Nile. Intermittent streams and underground aquifers are examples of other water sources.

The Sahara’s oasis, which are regions where groundwater rises to the surface, are where most of the tiny cities and settlements are located.

The most dry region of the desert, with minimal precipitation and almost little flora, lies in its middle. In regions of the northern and southern Sahara that receive more precipitation, there are bushes, meadows, and even trees.

The Nile River Valley and oasis both have abundant vegetation. Olive trees may even be spotted close to the Nile, in fact.

You might be shocked to learn that the Saharan soil is remarkably rich, making it feasible to cultivate great crops when irrigation is possible. The Sahara Desert is home to several salt lakes.

The Sahara desert has a broad variety of elevations. With a height of more than 11,300 feet above sea level, Chad’s Emi Koussi, a volcanic mountain in the Tibesti Mountains, is the highest point in the Sahara.

Since these mountains are so high, they often get snow every three years or so. The Qatarra Depression in Egypt, on the other hand, is 436 feet below sea level.

Also Read: Inside Pyramids of Khufu

Interesting facts about the Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert' The Biggest and Hottest Desert in the World

The Sahara Desert is the third biggest desert in the world after the Arctic and Antarctica. It is also the largest hot desert in the world.

It is situated in North Africa and spans a sizable portion of the continent, reaching 9,200,000 square kilometers—an area larger than either China or the US!

The Sahara Desert is quite hot

The Sahara is the world’s hottest desert and has one of the toughest climatic conditions. The warmest temperature ever recorded was 58°C, while the average yearly temperature is 30°C.

In reality, less than an inch of rain falls on the region annually, covering just about half of the Sahara Desert.

Despite the misconception that the Sahara has a year-round warm environment, temperatures drop significantly at night and can even go as low as -6°C due to the absence of humidity.

Only a few mountain ranges in the Sahara see frequent snowfall.

What Is The Sahara Desert’s Size?

The Arctic and Antarctica are the two biggest continents in the globe, respectively, while the Sahara Desert is the largest scorching desert on the planet.

Amazingly, the Sahara Desert occupies 9.2 million km2, or almost as much territory as China, or 8% of the planet’s surface. Impressive!

In the Sahara Desert, what may be found?

In truth, the majority of the Sahara is made up of rocky, desolate plateaus, salt flats, sand dunes, mountains, and arid valleys, making it much more than just a desert of sand.

Except for the River Nile, all of the rivers and streams in the Sahara are seasonal.

In the Sahara desert, there are more than 20 lakes, the majority of them are saltwater ones. The only freshwater lake in the desert is Lake Chad.

Emi Koussi, a volcano in the Chadian Tibesti Mountains, is the highest point in the Sahara at 3,415 meters.

The Hoggar Mountains, Tibesti Mountains, Saharan Atlas, Adrar des Iforas, and the Red Sea highlands are some of the other mountain ranges in the region.

How large are the Saharan sand dunes?

The Isaouane-n-Tifernine Sand Sea, with some of the highest sand dunes in the world, is located in east-central Algeria.

The Erg Chigaga dunes are the biggest in Morocco, with parts of them towering 300 meters high. The only ways to get to the Chigaga dunes are via camel, 4×4, or on foot.

The Sahara Desert has changed throughout time

Dramatically, indeed! The Sahara desert has seen major transformation. It was formerly lush and verdant, a haven for many different kinds of animals and plants.

Due to a steady shift in the earth’s tilt, the transition occurred about 5000 years ago. It is predicted that the Sahara Desert will eventually become green once more.

Also Read: The African Great Lakes

What Exactly Is “Sahara”?

In actuality, the name “Sahara” comes from the Arabic noun “ar,” which means “desert.” The term ashar, which means “desert like” and refers to a reddish color, is associated to the Sahara.

What Activities Are There In The Sahara?

You may go quad biking, stargazing, sand surfing, camping, or walking in the Sahara, among other things.

A 4-day journey to the summit of the Chegaga Dunes in the Sahara Desert is a magnificent trip! We’ll see a breathtaking desert dawn, sleep beneath the stars, and make lifelong memories.

One of the finest ways to see the stunning Sahara is through this (even if we are a little biased).

In which country is Sahara Desert?

The vast desert extends across ten nations (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia).

As well as the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that Morocco annexed in 1975, though the Indigenous Saharawi people dispute Morocco’s control of the area, according to a BBC report from 2021.

Do humans live in the Sahara?

In the Sahara, there are just two million people. Most of the population of the Sahara desert is made up of nomads who roam around according to the seasons.

Some people reside in permanent settlements close to water sources.

The Sahara Desert is a fascinating and lovely environment that is just begging to be discovered. Visit our Sahara Desert Trek to learn more about our trekking expedition and to begin your journey!

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