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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Fog Farmers

Fog Farmers

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, January 14, 2020/Categories: natural history, sustainability, environment

                            Fog Harvesting in the Atacama Desert  (credit: Wiki-climate)

Parts of coastal South America receive virtually no rain. The Atacama Desert is so dry it often is used as a surrogate for Mars where extreme biology experiments are tested. From Peru to Central Chile, upwelling of the Humboldt Current pulls cold water from the ocean depths to the surface. Air moving over the Pacific is chilled producing coastal cloud and dense banks of fog. Two photographs show how extensive this fog can be. The images also show how abruptly the layer of moisture are stopped by the desert and mountainous spine of the Andes.
                                  Coastal Peru and
Winter Cloud and Fog Banks  (credit: NASA)
                               Extent of Winter Fogs into Coastal Inland Valleys, Peru  (credit:NASA)

With a region so devoid of water but blanketed in thick fog for months, innovative approaches are used to harvest the moisture and collect the water, one drop at a time. Typically, screens are vertically erected to filter the fog and condense water droplets on a lattice where the water is funneled into a tank. The approach is often called 'fog farming'. Current approaches are still primitive but they are now receiving high-tech attention from engineers at MIT to improve the efficiency of the system. Good results are being realized by applying new screens to capture moisture in both countries.

Fogged-in takes on a new meaning now.



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