NewsAtacama's rare winter bloom: Flowers transform world's driest desert

Atacama's rare winter bloom: Flowers transform world's driest desert

Flowers covered the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on our planet.
Flowers covered the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on our planet.
Images source: © Getty Images | abriendomundo
Anna Wajs-Wiejacka

10 July 2024 08:33

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places on Earth, although the latest photos seem to contradict this. A carpet of white and purple flowers has covered swathes of barren sand, and the sight is breathtaking.

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places on Earth. The locals also call it the "flowering desert" because every few years, it is covered with a vibrant array of purple, pink, white, and yellow flowers. Dormant seeds in the desert sand come to life when rain and the proper temperatures appear.

This usually happens in spring. According to CNN, the current blooming is happening unusually early, in the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere. This is all due to rainfall driven by El Niño. The blooming most often coincides with this phenomenon, during which temperatures in the region are higher, leading to greater evaporation and, consequently, higher rainfall totals.

According to an analysis by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Atacama has bloomed 15 times in the last 40 years. Although flowers have appeared in some places, they cannot yet be considered a "desierto florido," as the locals call the blooming.

The blooms are not yet extensive enough to officially be considered part of the "flowering desert" - said Cesar Pizarro, who leads biodiversity conservation at the National Forestry Corporation, in an interview with Reuters.

Will there be even more flowers in the Atacama?

Pizarro noted that further rainfall is forecast in the area, which suggests that flowers will soon be visible over a much larger area of the Atacama.

The Atacama experienced a spectacular blooming in 2015. Over 200 different species of flowers appeared in the desert. It was not only an extraordinary feast for the eyes of visitors but also for the animals living there. Perhaps it will be the same this year!

The Chilean government announced the creation of a new national park in the Atacama Desert in 2022. This step aimed to protect the flowering plants and the insects, birds, and reptiles living there.

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