As Ophelia continues to batter Ireland, and disrupt flights and transportation across the UK, it has also had the rather spectacular side effect of lifting the sand from the Sahara desert and hurling it into London’s skies turning it red.
Perhaps most interestingly, this phenomenon isn’t as rare as one would think: prevailing winds like the easterlies have a tendency to drag Saharan dust all over the globe (check out this wonderful map). The dust from Sahara is so far-reaching that it often contributes to poor air quality in Texas. In fact, the most thriving region in the world, the Amazon, might owe a lot of its verdure to the Sahara. Every year the phosphorus-deficient Amazon is fertilised by almost 28.8 million tons of Saharan dust which contains almost 22,000 tons of phosphorus – a vital nutrient for plant growth.
More than anything, all of this a testament to just how interconnected our planet is: even slight changes in climate literally halfway across the globe can drastically affect your surroundings. Of course, it’s easy to understand why the Sahara plays such a major role when you stop and think about just how massive the Saharan desert is.
At 9.2 million sq km the Sahara is 1.2 million sq km bigger than the continental United States.
Just let this image detonate in your mind…