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The Sahara Desert contains more water than sand 8/22/2015 •

The Sahara Desert contains more water than sand

The Sahara Desert occupies the 3d place in top 5 of the most spacious deserts after the two polar ones and is the largest sand desert. However, there is less sand and much more water than you can imagine!


175⁰F (80⁰С) is the temperature of the Sahara sand on a summer day. This is one of those rare places where the amount of precipitations (100 mm per year) is several times less than the amount of evaporation (2,500-5,500 mm per year). On the hottest days rain drops disappear before they can reach the ground.

89,963 mi3 (375,000 km3) of fresh water are contained in a huge underground lake under the Sahara (under the territory of Egypt, Libya, Chad and Sudan). This is one of the greatest natural reservoirs in the whole world. For example, Baikal contains only 5,518 mi3 (23,000 km3 ) of fresh water.

5,400 years ago the process of desertization started. Quite a few of rock carvings – petroglyphs – found in the area prove that several thousand years ago the Sahara was a green savanna with a lot of rivers and lakes. Nowadays we can see only dry beds of ancient rivers called wadi. During heavy rains some of them may turn into deep flows just in a couple of hours.

3.5 million mi2 (9 million km2) is the land area of the desert which makes 29.6% of Africa. About 2.5 million people inhabit this territory. As a comparison, the size of China is 3.7 mi3 (9.6 million km2) with the population of almost 1.4 billion people.

Only 20% of the Sahara is covered with sands. The rest is stone deserts (70%) and salt marshes (10%).

An average sand layer in the Sahara is 492 ft (150 m) thick. The tallest dunes sometimes reach the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

If humanity decided to clear the desert of its sand, each of 7.2 billion people living on our planet would have to top up with sand and then empty over 3 million buckets.

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