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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Fog

Fog is critical.

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, April 23, 2013/Categories: natural history, sustainability, environment, Archive Pick of the Week

I love fog, no two ways about it.

Growing up on the coast of California, there were times when the coast became shrouded in thick fogs that many thought gloomy. I never saw it that way. Those events always seemed an opportunity to wander on the beach and experience a special but irregular feature of the environment. I was reminded of all this when a remarkable satellite photograph of Southern and Baja Californias was released by NASA showing the coastlines bathed in low clouds.



Southern and Baja California Fog  (credit: NASA)

Fog is the essential environmental component for several specialized ecosystems. Without their regular humidity, the coastal redwoods with their spongy understory would wither and turn brown: tropical
Cloud Forests would lack the ability to produce water for cities and farms far from the mountains or create habitat for a riot of biodiversity; and the Namibian and Atacama deserts wouldn't receive any water at all. The Namib Desert is so dry, beetles have evolved hairs they use to comb fog for water molecules that the bugs stick to their bodies for consumption later.

A Science report 
Cloud Forest Trees Drink From the Fog  illustrated just how aggressively these specialized forests utilize the fog. A number of tree species in Central American cloud forests "slurp" fog droplets through their leaves. These forests are now endangered from a changing climate that is becoming less "foggy". The new findings raises concerns that these montane forests are even more fragile than originally thought.


Cloud Forest (credit: Fray Jorge NP, Chile)

Even with all their ecological services, biodiversity, and beauty that will be jeopardized by declining fogs, where would film noir movie producers find a better misty backdrop for their great thrillers?


WHB

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