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Fog Catchers

Fog Catchers

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, May 11, 2019/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 into Central Chile, upwelling of the Humboldt Current pulls cold water from the debts to the surface of the ocean. Air moving over the Pacific is chilled producing dense coastal cloud and dense fog banks. Two satellite photographs show how extensive this dense 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 fogs 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 structure 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 some high-tech attention from designers and engineers at MIT to improve the efficiency of the system. Two video reports show the results of applying new mesh screens to capture moisture in Chile and Peru.

Fogged-in takes on new meaning now.



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