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Sands across the Water

by Philip Sherwell, New York
Huge dust clouds swirling across the Atlantic from nothern Africa to South America are pictured in new images released by the US space agency Nasa that illustrate how Earth's largest tropical rainforest relies on its biggest desert to flourish.

Scientists have calculated for the first time how much dust makes the transatlantic journey from the Sahara to the Amazon basin, where it fertilises depleted soils.
Some 27,7 million tons of Saharan dust reaches the Amazon basin each year, according to analysis of three-dimensional imagery supplied by a Nasa satellite of the massive tan brown plumes that can be seen from space. The scientists have also calculated that about 22,000 tons of phosphoros - a remnant of the Sahara's past as a lake bed - makes that journey each year, replacing the same amount washed away in the Amazon by rain and floods.
It is estimated that 182 million tons of dust is normally carried west each year but much is flushed into the sea by rain.
The Daily Telegraph, 5th March 2015

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