NASA video shows how dust from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon

NASA video shows how dust from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon

A large amount of dust from the Sahara “travels” more than 2000 km to reach the Amazon, the phenomenon is shown in a video released by NASA.

NASA data shows the relationship between desert and forest, it was collected between 2007 and 2013, although it is a phenomenon known to scientists for years, we now have more precise data on this phenomenon.


How dust from the Sahara desert fertilizes the Amazon.

It is estimated that around 182,000 tonnes of dust from the Sahara crosses the Atlantic Ocean to reach America. Of this total, some 27.7 million tons of dust fall each year on the Amazon basin, 0.08% corresponds to phosphorus (an important nutrient for plants), according to researchers from the University of Maryland (USA), which is equivalent to 22,000 tons.


This amount of phosphorus, according to the study, is enough to meet the nutrient needs that the Amazon rainforest has lost with the heavy rains and flooding in the region.

“The entire Amazonian ecosystem depends on dust from the Sahara to replenish its lost nutrient stores,” says study coordinator Hongbin Yu. It confirms what many, even without scientific basis, have known for a long time: “it’s a small world and we are all connected”.

The nutrient-rich powder comes mainly from an area known as the Bodele Depression, located in the African country of Chad, formed after Africa’s largest lake dried up 1,000 years ago.

However, most of the dust remains suspended in the air, while 43 million tonnes travel towards the Caribbean Sea. The study, which was only possible thanks to data collection from NASA’s Calypso satellite, was published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters. Here you can see a 3D animation to see the phenomenon in a more didactic way:


Year 2020.


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