Desert bloom

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A desert bloom is a climatic phenomenon that occurs in various deserts around the world. The phenomenon consists of the blossoming of a wide variety of flowers during early-mid spring in years when rainfall is unusually high.

Desert Bloom in Namaqualand, South Africa

The blossoming occurs when the unusual level of rainfall reach the seeds and bulbs that have been in a latent or dormant state and causes them to germinate and flower in early spring.[1] It is accompanied by the proliferation of insects, birds and small species of lizards.

Around the world[edit]

Chile[edit]

Flowering desert in the Chilean Atacama Desert

In the Atacama Desert, a desert bloom (Spanish: desierto florido) occurs between the months of September and November in years when rainfall is unusually high. Normally, the Atacama Desert receives less than 12 mm (0.47 in)[2] of rain a year.

At its height, the phenomenon can be seen from just south of the city of Vallenar to just north of the city of Copiapó throughout the coastal valleys and Chilean Coast Range from September to November.

Climatically, the event is related to the El Niño phenomenon,[3] a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that occasionally develops off the western coast of South America, which can lead to an increase in evaporation and therefore precipitation.[4]

The flowering desert is a popular tourist attraction[5] with tourists visiting the phenomenon from various points around the southern Atacama, including Huasco, Vallenar, La Serena, Copiapó and Caldera.[6]


Peru[edit]

Flowering desert in Barranquilla (2010), Atacama Region

In the South and North of Lima, a desert bloom (Spanish: desierto florido) occurs between the months of September and November in years when rainfall and humidity is unusually high. The particularity of the one in Lima is that it goes all the way up to the highlands as the clouds get "stuck" and precipitate water. The other particularity is the green moss that appears.

Plant and animal life[edit]

The flowering desert involves more than 200 species of flower,[7] most of them endemic to the Atacama region. The different species germinate at different times through the flowering desert period. Some of the most common species include:[8]

The region is also home to cacti, succulents and other examples of xerophilous plants, as well as animal species including the Tuco-tuco and the Four-Eyed Frog.[9]

Conservation[edit]

In recent years, concerns have been raised by environmental organizations about the potentially damaging effects of large numbers of tourists visiting the flowering desert, the illegal trade of native flower species,[10] and the development of motorsport.[11] Environmental organizations have suggested that these activities limit the potential for regeneration of the existing species. In response to this, the Chilean Government has established a series of prohibitions and controls, in addition to informative campaigns to the public, and especially to tourists, in order to limit the damage.[12][13]

Flowering[edit]

The phenomenon depends on above-average rainfall, but highly excessive rainfall can limit blooming. For example, in 1997 the region experienced very high total rainfall, with 129.4 mm (5.09 in) of rain in Copiapó (978% above average) and 168.5 mm (6.63 in) in Vallenar (433% above average), but there was only minimal desert flowering.[8][irrelevant citation]

In a single day in March 2015, parts of the area received 23 mm (0.91 in) of rain from El Niño, causing flowering in September and October 2015.[14][15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flowering desert www.livingatlaschile.com Published January 18, 2013, retrieved December 17, 2013
  2. ^ Atacama Desert www.windows2universe.org Retrieved March 30, 2013
  3. ^ NOAA's El Niño Page www.elninonoaa.gov Retrieved March 30, 2013
  4. ^ Irrigation Water Management: Introduction to irrigation, RAINFALL AND EVAPOTRANSPIRATION www.fao.org Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, Retrieved March 30, 2013
  5. ^ Desierto florido aumenta en 20% turistas en Región de Atacama Manuel Valencia, La Tercera, 24 September 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  6. ^ The desert in bloom: a natural wonder ThisisChile.cl, 12 July 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  7. ^ Atacama Desert http://www.eoearth.org/ Atacama Desert, Mark McGinley Retrieved March 30, 2013
  8. ^ a b Ordoñez, Ricardo. "Desierto Florido - Norte de Chile". Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  9. ^ The Desert in Bloom: A natural wonder www.thisischile.cl. Retrieved March 30, 2013
  10. ^ Flora del Desierto de Atacama www.geovirtual.cl Retrieved March 30, 2013
  11. ^ Denuncias al Dakar de Chile por destruir patrimonio arqueológico y medioambiental www.elmundo.es Jorge Barreno, January 08, 2012, Retrieved April 1, 2013
  12. ^ Firman convenio para proteger desierto florido Ministerio de Bienes Nacionales de Chile, 22 September 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  13. ^ Example of public information for protection of Flowering Desert Tenred.cl, 30 September 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Atacama Desert Blooms Pink After Historic Rainfall (Photos)". LiveScience.com. 
  15. ^ Erin Blakemore. "The World's Driest Desert Is in Breathtaking Bloom". Smithsonian. 

Coordinates: 27°57′S 70°33′W / 27.950°S 70.550°W / -27.950; -70.550