Stun­ning snaps from across the fields of his­tory, na­ture or science

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Contents - Aïn Séfra, Al­ge­ria

Not even the Sa­hara desert is safe from win­ter’s icy ten­drils. On 7 Jan­uary, the dunes near the north­ern Al­ge­rian town of Aïn Séfra were blan­keted with snow, which lay up to 40cm deep in some places.

“In the Sa­hara, tem­per­a­tures at night can drop be­low freez­ing, but the air is usu­ally too dry for pre­cip­i­ta­tion,” says Amanda May­cock, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in cli­mate dy­nam­ics at the Univer­sity of Leeds. “In early Jan­uary, a cold front from a weather sys­tem over the western Mediter­ranean Sea ex­tended south­wards over Al­ge­ria. This re­gion of cold, dry air met another sec­tor of warmer, moist air, cre­at­ing the per­fect con­di­tions for snow.”

Win­try weather in the north­ern Sa­hara is rare, but not un­heard of – this is the third time snow has fallen in the re­gion in nearly 40 years. Pic­tures on so­cial me­dia showed lo­cals slid­ing down the snow-clad slopes on their stom­achs. But the fun was short-lived: most of it had melted away by the end of the fol­low­ing day.

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