NAMIB DESERT, AFRICA
The Namib Desert stretches for over 2,000km down Africa’s west coast, from Angola, through Namibia and into South Africa, and is home to a massive ‘dune sea’, with several dunes rising over 300m high.
Sand carried by wind from the coast forms the dunes: pale yellow near the sea, and a deep reddish brown further inland. At the coast, the yellow sand has recently emerged from the sea; further inland it’s darker in colour because iron in the sand becomes weathered over time, creating a dark iron oxide coat on the grains.
Life exists in this desert because a cold ocean current brings icy water from the Atlantic to Africa’s west coast. The current cools the warm air above the surface of the water, forming fog and dew – the area’s primary source of water. This allows some small animals to flourish, including the Namib desert beetle, Stenocara
gracilipes, which collects water from fog through bumps on its back.