Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More on How a Single Spot in the Sahara Desert Creates the Amazon Jungle

In case you missed it, a 2006 paper titled "The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest" was recently dug up by science writer Colin Schultz. Listen below to Schultz's talk with Niagara Falls' News Talk 610 CKTB about the paper's findings:
 

As the title of the paper suggests, and as Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker helps us visualize, what "we're talking about is a patch of desert only a third the size of Florida supplying the nutrient needs of a jungle that is roughly the same size as all 48 contiguous United States." Maggie Koerth-Baker pulled this quote from the paper:
A total of 140 (± 40) Tg is deposited in the Atlantic ocean and 50 (± 15) Tg
[1 Tg = 1 million tons] reach and fertilize the Amazon basin. This is four times an older estimate, explaining a paradox regarding the source of nutrients to the Amazon forest. Swap et al suggested that while the source for minerals and nutrients in the Amazon is the dust from Africa, it was estimated that only 13 Tg of dust per year actually arrive in the Amazon. However, they pointed out that 50 Tg are needed to balance the Amazon nutrient budget. Here we show a remarkable arrangement in nature in which the mineral dust arriving at the Amazon basin from the Sahara actually originates from a single source of only ~ 0.5% of the size of the Amazon: the Bodélé depression. Located northeast of Lake Chad (17°N, 18°E) near the northern border of the Sahel, it is known to be the most vigorous source for dust over the entire globe.
   

1 comment:

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