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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.

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