Thursday, 22 October 2015

Flowering Desert: A Climatic Phenomenon in Chilean Atacama Desert

The “flowering desert” also called “desierto florido” is a climatic phenomenon that occurs at the Atacama Desert, in Chile. The magnificent phenomenon comprises of the blossoming of a wide range of flowers in the months of September and November every year. The flowering starts when rainfall is unusually high, a normally this region receives less than 12 mm of rain a year. The flowers blossoming take place when the infrequent level of rainfall reach the seeds and bulbs that have been in a latent or dormant state and roots them to germinate in early spring. Therefore, it is accompanied by the propagation of insects, birds and minor species of lizard. At its height, the phenomenon can be seen from just south of the city of Vallenar to just north of the city of Copiapó throughout the coastal valleys and Chilean Coast Range. The phenomenon is strictly dependent on above-average rainfall, although highly excessive rainfall has been seen to limit blooming. The area proved to be one of the chief sources of Chile’s wealth until World War I. The Atacama Desert is one of the driest and one of the oldest deserts places on Earth.

Climatically, the event is related to the El Niño phenomenon, a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that occasionally develops off the western coast of South America, which can lead to an increase in evaporation and therefore precipitation. Due to gorgeous beauty of flowering desert, the site has been emerge in popular tourist attraction with visitors visiting the climatic phenomenon from various points around the southern Atacama, including Huasco Vallenar, La Serena, Copiapo and Cladera. The flowering desert comprises over two hundred species of flower, most of them endemic to the Atacama region. The different species germinate at different times through the flowering desert period.

Some of the most common species include Garra de león, Pata de guanaco, Añañuca, Schizopetalon tenuifolium. This area is also home to cacti, succulents and other examples of xerophilous plants, as well as animal species including the Tuco-tuco and the Four-Eyed Frog. In recent times, various concerns have been raised by environmental organizations regarding the possibly damaging effects of large numbers of tourists visiting the flowering desert, the illegal trade of native flower species, and the development of motorsport. Chilean Government has established a series of prohibitions and control in response of environmental organizations has suggested that these activities limit the potential for regeneration of the existing species. In addition to informative campaigns to the public, and especially to tourists, in order to limit the damage.