When we hear the word desert, our eyes flash before our eyes a very dry, storm-free, and a vast area covered with dusty sand all around. According to experts, about one-third of the earth’s land area is desert.
Four types of deserts are generally found based on geographical conditions. These are polar deserts, tropical deserts, winter deserts, and winter coastal deserts. Chile is a country in the southwest of the South American continent.
The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the coldest coastal deserts in the world. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina on the other.
To the west of this desert is the Pacific Coast Range, called the Cordillera de la Costa, and to the east are the Andes or Andes Mountains.
These mountains block the air currents and accompanying clouds from both sides of the desert. As a result, the amount of rainfall here comes down to zero.
The main area of the Atacama desert is one hundred and five thousand square kilometers. Most of this desert is covered with rocky terrain, gray sand, salt lakes, and felsic lava.
The rainfall history here is quite pathetic. It is believed that there was no rain in this region from 1570 to 1971. The average rainfall in this region is about 1 mm per year.
But there are some places in the desert where it never rains. Some places, such as Arica and Iquique, receive between 1 and 3 mm of rain a year.
But despite this lack of rain, the desert has some natural powers. Thousands of flower seeds are deposited under its sand. When it rains, the water seeps down to the bottom of the desert sand.
The rainwater brings new life to the dormant seeds under the sand. Slowly this tree started growing roots and leaves. These plants grow very fast compared to other plants.
Because water accumulates under the sand, they do not have much problem growing. Gradually yellow, white, pink, and red flowers of different colors started blooming on the tree.
As the flowering plants grow, the area once becomes a carpet of pink flowers. This desert sees rain once in two to four years. It rains around May and flowers appear in the desert around September-November.
Locals call it the ‘desert of flowers. Usually, after five-seven years such flower gardens are seen naturally. In 2015, this desert received a lot of rain. A lot of flowers bloom here that year.
The whole world is surprised to see this strange sight of nature. The display of colorful flowers in the middle of the dhu dhu desert was called ‘Super Bloom’ in the newspaper.
But to everyone’s surprise, in the current month of 2017, the vast area of the Atacama desert has been covered in pink color again.
National Geographic reports that the flower blooms for the second time in two years, a phenomenon called ‘double blooming’. Naturalists believe that this happened as a result of unexpected rain around May 2017.
There are more than two hundred species of plants in this desert. But perennial flowers are the most common here. Flowers do not live very long.
It is very difficult for any plant to survive in such a harsh environment. Apart from this occasional and part-time flowering plant, no other type of tree can be found in the Atacama desert.
This year, more than 600 miles of flowers bloomed in the Atacama desert. Tourists are increasingly attracted to the flowering plants.
Therefore, besides the flowers, many tourists are gathering in this desert of Chile. This flower blooms from October to November. According to experts, the number of flowers will decrease from November onwards.
Rainless, barren and uninhabitable, this desert is rich in mineral resources. It is rich in sodium nitrate and copper. Sodium nitrate is used to make fertilizers and gunpowder.
This desert is surrounded by Bolivia, Peru and Chile. At the end of the 19th century, disputes began between the three countries over the mineral resources here.
This resulted in a massive war between the three countries from 1879 to 1883, known as the War of the Pacific.
Although most of the desert was controlled by Bolivia and Peru, both countries were defeated by Chile’s military tactics and military might. As a result, Chile gained control of most of the desert, while Bolivia lost its entire western coastline.
According to scientists, another important aspect of this desert is its natural environment and climate, which is very similar to that of Mars.
As a result, NASA has a great interest in this desert. Before a mission to Mars, NASA uses a variety of instruments to test them here, to ensure their functionality.
Many Hollywood science films are also shot in this desert. Another significant event in Chile is that the world’s oldest mummy has been found here.
The age of the mummy here is 7020 BC; Whereas the Egyptian mummy dates back to 3000 BC. According to experts, only extreme humidity made this possible.
Another remarkable feature of this desert is the variation in its natural conditions. During the summer, the temperature reaches over 40 degrees Celsius, which drops to 5 degrees Celsius at night.
On the other hand, the mountains here are covered with white snow. The main reason for this is the height of the mountains here.
The temperature does not rise much in these mountains as they are located much above the sea level. The Atacama Desert is one of the few places in the world where you can see clear skies most days of the year.
It is probably one of the best places on earth to observe the sky. Recently, the world’s largest telescope ‘Alma’ has been installed in this desert.
Apart from this, there are 66 radio telescopes, with the help of which images are obtained to study the formation of stars. Another unique feature of this desert is the ‘Hand of Desert’.
Tourists flock from far and wide to see this sculpture created by the famous Chilean sculptor Mario Irrazabala. All in all, the Atacama Desert is full of natural diversity and wonder. There is no end to people’s interest in this desert.