Saturday, August 1, 2015

The SAHARA

Executive summary by darmansjah

A desert roughly the size of the United States

SAND TO SAND

Sandstone spires reach through Saharan dunes in Chad’s Karnasai Valley. Wind and storms are gradually eroding the rock formations and returning them to sand.

OTHERWORDLDY VISTA

A Tuareg strides across the windblown sands of Tassillin-Ajjer, a plateau in southeast Algeria. Eroded 

NORTH AFRICA It is the iconic desert, The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, covering 3.3 million square miles (8.6 million sq km) of North Africa. Towering golden sand dunes roll aross its midsection. Summer temperatures routinely soar above 120F (49C). The environment was not always so hostile. For several thousand years, from about 8500 B.C. to 5300 B.C., a wetter climate supported savannahs, acacia forests, and even swamps. Giraffes, hippos, and elephants flourished. When drier conditions returned, most of the animals and people moved out. Now, the reverse may be occurring. A more humid climate, possibly the result of global climate change, is bringing greenery back to the fringes.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Yellowstone

Executive summary by darmansjah

Yellowstone is home to more geothermal features than any place on Earth.

LIVING COLOR

Colorful, pigmented bacteria rings Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring, the country’s largest hot spring. The sterile water in the center is a simmering 160F (71C).

ANIMAL AND MINERAL

Wolves, such as this male calling his pups roams Yellowstone in 11 overlapping packs. Mineral terraces form from dissolved limestone that rises through hot springs, solidifying when the water hits the open air.

Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The world’s first national park-established in 1872-preserves the continent’s largest supervolcano, the active Yellowstone caldera. Within Yellowstone National Park’s 3,572 square miles (8,992 sq km) of stunning  scenery are at least half of the world’s geothermal features, including more than 300 geysers an more than 10,000 hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots. The park holds the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, with grizzly and black bears, gray wolves (restored in 1995), bison, elk, wolverines, and mountain lions. The Old Faithful geyser erupts 17 times a day, propelling thousands of gallons of steaming, pressurized water about 130 feet (40 m) into the air to the oohs, aahs, and gasps of visitors.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Altiplano

Executive summary by darmansjah

A landscape of ice, fire, wind and salt stretching 600 miles (965 km)

BOLIVIA, PERU, AND ARGENTINA rich in silver, salt, and eerie appeal, the altiplano holds a mirror to the sky. The 12,000-foot-high (3,660 m) plateau stretches 600 miles (965 km) through the Andes of Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina, one of Earth’s largest tablelands. The water basins that once covered it have evaporated, but it still holds Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, is in the wetter north. The dry, lonely south includes Salar de Uyuni, an other worldly saltscape; laguna Colorada,  a salty, reddish lake favored by flamingos; and the sulfurous mudpots of Sol de Manana. There’s silver and tin beneath the surface, but few trees survive in the wind-sheared expanses and few crops can be coaxed from the Ground.

BLUE HORIZONS

A herd of domesticated Ilamas stands out in relief on the flat, spring-fed pastures of the Altiplano, Llamas and alpacas are native to the high, windswept region.

FINE FEATHERED FAMILIES

Reflected in Laguna colorada’s quiet waters, puna (or James’s) flamingos tend their less colorful young. The unusual birds are found only on high Andean plateau.