An amateur photographer captured photos Monday of snow canvassing the dunes of one of the world’s hottest and driest deserts for the first time in 37 years.
Snow last fell in the small Saharan desert town of Ain Sefra Feb. 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted for less than an hour. Ain Sefra is 3,280 feet above sea level and is nestled between the Atlas Mountains in Africa.
The Sahara Desert has gone through seismic temperature and moister shifts. It is expected to look greener over the next 15,000 years thanks to natural shifts in climate.
Karim Bouchetata, who took photos of the snow-covered dunes, told reporters he felt compelled to snap shots of the scene for posterity.
“Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the dessert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata said. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand and made a great set of photos.”
The snow didn’t last long. It melted after only a day, but it hung around long enough to leave an impression.
Recent studies suggest global warming may be a cyclical change brought on by natural shifts in an area’s climate.
A University at Buffalo study published in May showed that climate change could lead to higher instances of snow in the Arctic, likely leading to Greenland’s ice sheets to melt slower than initially thought.
The increased snowfall means that Arctic ice will expand more than expected during the area winter months, potentially tossing a wrench in climate models predicting catastrophic global warming.
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