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Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia

19.9S 13.6E

August 11th, 2010 Category: Snapshots

Namibia - August 4th, 2010

The area of orange and rusty red sands along the coast of Namibia is the southern part of the Namib Desert. The northern part is bedrock, not covered by sand, and appears tan in color.

In the full image a large, brown patch of land can be observed north of the northern Namib Desert. This terrain is part of the Skeleton Coast National Park. The 20.000 square kilometre (7.722 sq mi) park gets its name due to the constant heavy fogs (here, clouds are visible along the shoreline) and heavy surf that have caused many shipwrecks over the years.

Orange Sands of the Southern Namib Desert, Namibia

25.2S 15.4E

May 20th, 2010 Category: Snapshots

Namibia - April 28th, 2010

Namibia - April 28th, 2010

The Namib Desert is an almost rainless area in Namibia, visible here as an orange-colored zone along the coast. It is 50–80 mi (80–130 km) wide over most of its length, traversed by rail lines linking Walvis Bay with the Republic of South Africa.

The desert is basically a smooth platform of bedrock of various types and ages. In the southern half the platform is covered with sand. The eastern part, the Inner Namib, supports large numbers of antelope, while the shore area has a dense population of marine life.

Rusty Red Dunes of the Namib Desert, Namibia

24.7S 15.2E

May 24th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Namib Desert - May 13th, 2009

Namib Desert - May 13th, 2009

The Namib Desert, which appears  orange and rusty red, stretches 2000 km (1200 mi) along the southwestern African coast, where a burning desert touches an icy sea. In contrast to its length, the average width of the desert is only 113 km (70 mi).

The hyper-arid Namib ecosystem is greatly affected by ocean winds and the Benguela Current. They temper the climate of the coastal desert, bringing life to the shores, and allowing for sediments deposited into the ocean to be carried back inland to form the Namib’s extensive dunes, the highest in the world.

These dunes are surrounded by arid plains, which never receive enough rainfall to permit grasses and shrubs to gain a foothold and colonize them.

Although there are other coastal deserts bounded by cool ocean currents, the Namib is the only desert in the world where endemic flora and fauna have evolved in virtually vegetationless dunes.

Namib Desert and Great Escarpment, Namibia

March 19th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Namib Desert, Namibia - March 13th, 2009

Namib Desert, Namibia - March 13th, 2009

The barren Namib Desert is identifiable as the flatter area along the coast of Namibia, colored deep red and orange by its sands. Part of South Africa’s shoreline is also visible towards the bottom.

The second-largest desert in Africa, the Namib has an area of around 80 900 km² (31 200 square miles), and covers about 1000 miles (1,600 km) of Atlantic coastline.

While the Atlantic Ocean provides a border to the West, its eastern border is created by the Great Escarpment, which swiftly rises to over 2,000 meters (6,562 ft). Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase as one moves further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish.

Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is nonetheless significantly more productive than the Namib Desert.  As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation. The water, along with rapidly changing topography, is responsible for the creation of microhabitats which offer a wide range of organisms, many of them endemic.

Vegetation along the Escarpment varies in both form and density, with community structure ranging from dense woodlands to more shrubby areas with scattered trees. A number of Acacia species are found here, as well as grasses and other shrubby vegetation.

Phytoplankton Bloom off Angola-Namibia Coast

18.7S 16.2E

August 23rd, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Namibia and Angola - August 6th, 2009

Namibia and Angola - August 6th, 2009

Etosha Pan

Etosha Pan

Part of the border between Namibia (below) and Angola (above) can be easily identified here as a straight line across the land in the upper half of the image.

Two geographical formations of note can also be seen: the green Etosha pan,  a large endorheic salt pan south of the border, and the northern part of the orange Namib Desert, in the lower right quadrant. The close-up focuses on the 120-kilometre-long (75-mile-long) dry lakebed and its surroundings, which are protected as Etosha National Park.

Two other phenomena of a more temporary nature include a semi-circular phytoplankton bloom off the coast between the Namib Desert and the Etosha Pan, and a faint wisp of smoke blowing across the border in the upper right quadrant. Both are best visible upon opening the full version of the main image.