(ORDO NEWS) — Approximately 20% of the surface of our planet consists of deserts, which are unsuitable for the life of most animals.
There is almost no water, plants, places to hide from natural phenomena, and so on – in general, these are far from the best places to travel. Most of the deserts are covered with ice and snow, but most often they are associated with sands and the scorching sun.
According to scientists, today an area of about 4.26 million square kilometers is covered with sand. Researchers have an excellent idea of the size of sandy deserts, but do they know how thick the sand is?
As difficult as it may be to estimate this indicator, scientists have long had an answer to this question – we will talk about this now.
Approximately 20% of the surface of our planet consists of deserts, which are unsuitable for the life of most animals. There is almost no water, plants, places to hide from natural phenomena, and so on – in general, these are far from the best places to travel.
Most of the deserts are covered with ice and snow, but most often they are associated with sands and the scorching sun. According to scientists, today an area of about 4.26 million square kilometers is covered with sand.
Researchers have an excellent idea of the size of sandy deserts, but do they know how thick the sand is? As difficult as it may be to estimate this indicator, scientists have long had an answer to this question – we will talk about this now.
How many deserts exist on Earth
It is very difficult to answer the question of how many deserts there are on Earth – different information is given in all sources. So, some sources say that the UNESCO list includes 51 deserts, and only 30 of them are considered large.
If you look at the list of deserts on Wikipedia, you can count 47 deserts. Most likely, the difference in the data is due to the fact that scientists consider them differently – some deserts are very small compared to others, so they are not included in the lists.
The largest deserts on earth
The largest desert in the world is the Antarctic, with an area of 13.8 million square kilometers. But it is covered with ice and snow, so we are not interested in this article – we are only interested in those that are covered with sand.
If we talk about sandy deserts, the largest is the Sahara. It is located in Africa and stretches over 9 million square kilometers.
In winter, the air temperature in the Sahara drops to +13 degrees Celsius, and in summer it is at least +37 degrees. Despite harsh conditions, the Sahara has a population of 2.5 million.
Where did sand come from in the deserts
The reason for the formation of deserts on Earth is associated with natural changes – at certain times, some parts of the planet became dry and hot due to a variety of factors.
The same Sahara was not always so hot – in ancient times, its current territory was dominated by a moderately humid climate.
But then the Earth’s orbit changed, and the area of the polar ice sheets became smaller, as a result of which periods of rains and long droughts began to alternate.
Sand in deserts occurs as a result of the destruction of rocks under the influence of wind and temperature changes.
In fact, every grain of sand in the desert is a microscopic rock that is made up of quartz, the most abundant mineral on our planet.
Under a layer of sand in the deserts is rocky rock and cracked clay. If you want to know more, read this article.
How thick is the sand in the deserts
It is not difficult for scientists to estimate the area of deserts – this can be easily done using satellite images. Measuring sand thickness in deserts is much more difficult for at least two reasons.
First, this requires special equipment. Secondly, the thickness of the sand is different everywhere: on the plains it is small, and much more on the tops of the hills.
Despite such difficulties, scientists have been able to estimate the thickness of the sand in most major deserts.
The thickness of the sand in the Sahara Desert
The Sahara is the largest desert in the world, so it has both plains and hilly areas. In the southern part of Egypt is the Selim sand shield, which is completely devoid of any dunes.
Consequently, the thickness of the sand in this area is minimal and is a maximum of 5 centimeters.
However, if you go further and climb to the top of a dune, the thickness of the sand is 300 meters or even more.
According to the results of remote sensing, the average thickness of sand in the Sahara is 3.6 meters.
The thickness of the sand in the Simpson Desert
The Simpson Desert is located almost in the very center of Australia. Its area is 143 thousand square kilometers, so it is far from the largest in the world.
Some sources say that the thickness of the sand in Simpson does not exceed 1 meter. Most likely, we are talking about flat areas, because this area is also full of dunes – their height reaches 40 meters.
The thickness of the sand in the Namib desert
The Namib is a coastal desert in southwestern Africa. Its area is 100 thousand square kilometers, so it is also not the largest in the world.
But it is the oldest, because it was formed about 55 million years ago. The thickness of the sand in Namibe on flat terrain is about 30 meters, but the height of the sand dunes can reach 380 meters.
The largest sand dune in the world
In the end, it turns out that the thickness of sand in deserts can range from 5 centimeters to several hundred meters.
Sometimes sand dunes are so huge that they are given separate names, just like mountains.
The largest sand dune is located in the northwest of Argentina – it is called Federico Kirbus and rises to 1230 meters. It got its name in honor of Federico Kirbus, a journalist and researcher who discovered it.
Finally, it is worth noting that the deserts on our planet are constantly changing. Within the next 12,000 years, the well-known Sahara may turn green and become a pleasant place to live.
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