After detailed and extensive research, the scientists concluded that dust is what connects the two very different regions.
According to the experts, the wind carries millions of tons of very nutrient-rich dust from the Sahara desert, and it’s carried across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Amazonian rainforests. The dust is high in phosphorous, which is a great natural fertilizer, and helps keep the Amazonian flora alive.
The new study marks the first time the scientists have estimated in an accurate way the amount of phosphorous that travels across the Atlantic all the way to the Amazon forests.
The figures reveal that the Sahara desert is responsible for depositing to the Amazon more than 22,000 tons of phosphorous annually.
The recent findings were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, on February 24.
According to the experts, the phosphorus from the Sahara desert accounts for less than 0.08% of the more than 27.7 million tons of Sahara dust, that reaches the Amazonian forests each year.
Although it’s such a small quantity, it’s enough to ensure the survival of the animals, plants and microbial life in the vast ecosystem that is Amazon.
Hongbin Yu, one of the leaders of the new study, explained that dust plays a crucial role in many ways. It’s an essential part of the Earth’s system, and it’s known to affect the climate, but at the same time, climate change can affect the dust, too.
Hongbin Yu is an associate research scientist at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, which is a joint center between NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland.
The scientists are very interested in a particular type of dust, one found in the Bodele Depression in Chad.
According to the experts, this lake is filled with dead microorganisms that are very rich in phosphorous.
Because Amazonian soils are very poor in phosphorous, the entire Amazon ecosystem depends on the dust that travels from the Sahara desert to fertilize and keep the soils alive.
Image Source: gks.uk