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They are thousands of miles and continents apart, yet not only are they connected to each other but one feeds and helps sustain the other. We are talking about the Earth's largest, hottest desert - the Sahara - and the Earth's largest tropical rain forest - the Amazon rain forest. Every year the Sahara Desert dust makes the 3,000-mile trans-Atlantic journey to the Amazon rainforest and fall to the surface over the Amazon basin. The dust contains phosphorus, a chemical element that is essential for life. It acts like a fertilizer, which the Amazon depends on in order to flourish. According to NASA:
An average of 27.7 million tons of dust per year - enough to fill 104,908 semi trucks - fall to the surface over the Amazon basin. The phosphorus portion, an estimated 22,000 tons per year, is about the same amount as that lost from rain and flooding.
What this means is mind-blowing: the Sahara Desert provides what is needed for the Amazon rain forest to thrive and survive! How then do the dust - and how much of it exactly - makes the epic journey? Watch this video by NASA to find out.


Top image: Conceptual animation of the Saharan dust travelling towards the Amazon basin. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre (video screen capture).

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