November 6, 2006

It’s a small, interdependant world

From the Register, an unusual article:

It might sound unlikely, but their work has shown that the Amazon rainforest depends on dust from one tiny area of the Sahara desert to restock its soil with nutrients and minerals. Analysis of images from NASAs MODIS satellite have revealed the Bodélé, a region of the Sahara not far from Lake Chad, as the source of more than half the material that fertilises the rainforest. The Bodélé depression was already known as one of the largest sources of dust in the world, but the scientists involved in the research say no one had any idea of the scale of the region’s importance to the Amazon. It transpires that if the Bodélé was not there, the Amazon would be a mere wet desert. Dr Ilan Koren, lead author of the paper said: Until now no one had any idea how much dust [The Bodélé] emits and what portion arrives in the Amazon. Using satellite data, we have calculated that it provides on average more than 0.7 million tons of dust on each day that it is actively emitting dust.”

Here’s a picture, swiped from this writeup of the Bodele:


This is yet another reminder that the world is an increasingly small place:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on certain days nearly 25 percent of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China. Some experts predict China could one day account for a third of all California’s air pollution.

Environment Science

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