Atacama Desert Wind


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Released over 5 years ago
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Atacama Desert Wind

On the edge of sun-bleached earth you stand, searching the horizon for some sign of color, some smear of self-indulgent life along the horizon, but the only color you see is the endless expanse of blue, haunting you like fresh ocean cast beyond your reach. The hot wind begins to pick up speed and your hands, holding a hood tightly around your head, begin to crack and bleed. The sun has begun to prepare you for dinner. The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a 600-mile (1,000 km) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is, according to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the driest desert in the world. The Atacama occupies 40,600 square miles (105,000 km2) in northern Chile, composed mostly of salt basins, sand, and felsic lava flows towards the Andes. The average rainfall in the Chilean region of Antofagasta is just 1 millimetre (0.04 in) per year. Some weather stations in the Atacama have never received rain. Evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971. It is so arid that mountains that reach as high as 6,885 metres (22,589 ft) are completely free of glaciers. Studies by a group of British scientists have suggested that some river beds have been dry for 120,000 years. However, some locations in the Atacama receive a marine fog known locally as the camanchaca, providing sufficient moisture for hypolithic algae, lichens and even some cacti.

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