Snow falls in the Sahara for 5th time in 42 years

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In a rare phenomenon, snow is falling in the Sahara desert for only the 5th time in 42 years.

Despite first snowfall occurring in 1979, the last 4 (including this one) have all occurred over the last 6 years, in 2016, 2018, 2021, and now 2022. Therefore, the beautiful sight of snow blanketing the golden sand of the desert is less of a ‘phenomenon’ and more of a clear sign of climate change.

Temperatures drop to below -2 degrees

The Sahara Desert, in its full 4.6 million km2, is one of the hottest and driest planes on the earth. With mean temperatures sometimes over 30 degrees Celsius and recorded temperatures as high as 53 degrees in the peak of summer, temperatures this low rattled the local Algerian population.

Luckily, this time around the snow fall is fairly light, and nothing like the snowstorm which ensued in 1979. Photographs taken in Ain Sefra, known as the gateway to the Desert, illustrate the beauty of these two forces of nature combining.

Blankets of snow in Ain Sefra

Despite this beauty, we must understand that this accelerated snowfall in one of the hottest and driest climates in the world is a clear sign of the accelerated effect of climate change.

Whilst on the surface the Sahara may seem like a devoid wasteland, it’s actually home to an impressive array of species which are adapted to the extreme climate. If snowfall becomes more frequent, more extreme, and lasts for longer durations, such species may have to face both extremes instead of one.

If Winter’s in the Sahara are bringing accelerated snowfall, what’s to say that Summers in the artic won’t bring more glacier depletion at the other end of the ‘extreme weather spectrum’?

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