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Spirit of St. Louis

The student news site of St. Louis School, Milan

Spirit of St. Louis

The student news site of St. Louis School, Milan

Spirit of St. Louis

Snow in the desert: a miracle or a tragedy?

The Sahara is the largest hot desert on the planet, with temperatures that easily reach around 55° Celsius during the hottest months. It stretches across all of northern Africa, surrounded on three sides by bodies of water. It’s inconceivable that snow fell and covered those hot sandy dunes, but it has, and more than once in the last 20 years.

In January of this year, photographs were captured of what can only be considered a miracle: a delicate white powder magically falling from the sky and resting on the reddish sand. Still, this weather anomaly makes us reflect on the worsening of climate change.  Snow was first scientifically recorded in the Sahara desert in 1979 and seen again after 37 years, in 2016. However, this phenomenon is getting more frequent as it also happened in 2018, 2021, 2022, and more recently, 2023.

Even though nightly temperatures in the Sahara can reach -5° Celsius, the air is too dry and the sand too hot for snow to actually form and stay before it melts. Climate change clearly altered these conditions in the desert, making snowfall more possible.

Snow hasn’t only affected the Sahara, but also other deserts around the world. An example is the Atacama desert, found in Chile. Heavy snowfall has been recorded there and it caused serious problems to the population of the affected areas, which aren’t used to such weather conditions.

These events of snowfall show us how climate change is making the weather more extreme and unpredictable, causing various difficulties to both the people and the infrastructure.

 

 

Sources:

Jasper Knight, Professor of Physical Geography. “Snowfall in the Sahara Desert: An Unusual Weather Phenomenon.” The Conversation, 9 June 2023, theconversation.com/snowfall-in-the-sahara-desert-an-unusual-weather-phenomenon-176037#:~:text=Snowfall%20in%20a%20hot%20desert,most%20recently%20in%20January%202022. 

Articles, Dark Energy. “Snow in the Sahara Is Nothing New. White Powder Is Falling in the Desert with Increasing Frequency.” Medium, Medium, 8 June 2023, medium.com/@darkenergyarticles/snow-in-the-sahara-is-nothing-new-white-powder-is-falling-in-the-desert-with-increasing-frequency-431d07bc833.

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