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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Mountains in a 'Sand Sea'

Mountains in a 'Sand Sea'

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, December 8, 2017/Categories: natural history, photography, environment

                                                     Addax Antelope (credit: Wikicommons)

The Air Mountains & Tenere Reserve rise from a 'sea of sand' in Niger's Sahara Desert. The volcanic mountains are the result of circular lava chambers that solidified and then uplifted over the millennia. The landscape is designated a World Heritage Site and is not only geologically unique but ecologically as well. The surrounding Sahara is a migration barrier to plants and animals effectively isolating everything that lives there.

  Sand Dunes and Massif, Air Mountains Reserve, Niger (credit: Wikicommons)           
According to field studies, the diversity of habitats -- stone deserts, highlands, plateaus, and water holes -- support multiple species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and one amphibian. The landscape also offers essential habitat for desert antelopes, gazelles, and the critically endangered addax. It also supports plants and trees including acacias, palms, wild olives, and the wild relatives of several cultivated crops. The reserve covers 30,000 square miles and is Africa's largest protected area. An image taken by NASA's Mission Terra shows the contrasting barren sands and vegetated uplands.

Air & Tenere Reserve, Niger   (credit: Mission Terra)

The isolated Air Mountains reserve is difficult to reach but isolated mountains, 'sky islands', are great places to explore anywhere they are found.




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