While researching over Amazon rain forest fires I came to know one of the incredible facts about the far-flung geographical relation of two continents. I am talking about Amazon rainforest and Sahara desert it is surprising to know that the Amazon lacks phosphorous a key ingredient for plant growth then you must be thinking how come this forest shaped into such a giant structure the answer to this puzzle is Sahara desert now another thought must be striking your head how it can be done as both of them are miles away for that I would like to take you to the prehistoric times during that period Sahara was not the desert it was a vast lake Mega-Chad contained algae and other microorganisms but approx. 70000 years ago under changing climate lake Mega-Chad stared receding and dried out a much smaller relic of the present-day Lake Chad. Growth of nutrient-rich micro-organism made present-day Sahara desert rich in phosphorous but one question still remained unresolved; How Sahara desert is feeding Amazon rainforest with phosphorous?
In the Chad region of Sahara desert, there is a Bodele Depression which carries major dust and because of its geography, it is highly prone to severe dust storms. An eastern whipping wind storm forms a wind tunnel with the alliance of two nearby mountain ranges and picks up phosphorus-rich dust. This phosphorous rich wind tunnel covers 3000 miles across the ocean. Scientists were aware of this connection between Amazon and Sahara desert since 2006 but Hongbin Yu of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre has given better insight into this process Using NASA satellites “lidar”, as per the researchers these winds from Sahara desert carry, approx. 27.7 million tons of dust which contain on an average 22,000 tons of phosphorus which mean Amazon basin receives its huge package of phosphorus every year which is losing from its soil through rain washes. For a more detailed study of this fascinating relationship, researchers used the CALIPSO satellite for the quality of dust The satellite would send off little pulses of light and track how the pulses bounce off particles in the atmosphere. The researchers then painstakingly distinguished between dust and other particles based on their unique properties.
It’s astonishing how two continents in precise two major biomes of the earth are feeding themselves in completely out of anticipation. But there is still to research how long this relationship has been and for how long it will last.