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Focus-Science and Technology - - EYE OPENER - PARANYU PITHAYARUNGSARIT/ SONY

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.

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