Today, the Sahara Desert is defined by unforgiving weather, oppressive heat and undulating sand dunes. But there is one more feature that makes this region unique – it gets a good amount of sunlight and wind throughout the year. While harnessing the immense potential of the region using panels in solar farms and wind farms is definitely on the cards, a recent study involving solar and wind farms have gotten everyone excited.
According to the study, not only these solar farms and panels can be used to generate limitless energy for the world but they could actually turn the Sahara Desert Green! Let’s find out how this could be possible and whether it would really be able to prevent large-scale desertification caused by global warming.
Sahara was Once Green
Some 11,000 years ago, what we know today as the world’s largest desert, was a green and lively place. But between 8,000 and 4,500 years ago, the Earth’s orbital shift caused the transition of the weather from humid to dry. Furthermore, archaeologist David Wright has suggested that increasing human inhabitation and their livestock could have also contributed to this dramatic transformation.
Can ‘Wasteland’ be Turned into a ‘Forestland’ Again?
A group of scientists led by researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois has found that if solar and wind farms large enough to power the planet will be installed in the Sahara desert, it could increase rainfall and vegetation in the Sahara and the neighboring Sahel region. The increase in vegetation and rainfall, combined with clean electricity, could help economic, agricultural and social development in the region.
How Renewable Energy Infrastructure will Help bring the Change?
According to the study, wind farms would mix hot air with cooler air, and solar panels would prevent sunlight from being reflected back into the atmosphere. As the heat from the sun would be absorbed by the panels and prevent the ground from absorbing and reflecting the heat, it would lead to more rising air and rainfall.
Why Sahara was Chosen for the Study?
There are many reasons why the Sahara Desert was chosen by the scientists for the study:
- Sahara is sparsely populated due to extreme climate
- Various studies have found the Sahara Desert to be ideal for renewable energy farms
- It is close to Europe and the Middle East, all of which have large and growing energy demands
- It is highly sensitive to land changes
- Sahara’s frontiers, alongside River courses, such as the Nile and Niger and mountain ranges, have enough humidity to favor the growth of forests in the region
Can all deserts be turned green?
Every desert is different and requires specific solutions and knowledge to suit the needs of the area. The techniques to convert deserts into green areas again must also be sustainable and cost-effective in the long-run, so that more and more people can benefit from it. Although this study has shown hope for a better future, there remains ample room for innovation, and more financial investment, to convert ideas like these into large-scale, durable solutions.
Techniques like permaculture (development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be self-sufficient) and other sustainable reforestation techniques, along with the use of clean energy might just be the way to keep the desert from encroaching further and threatening people’s lives.
Desertification is one of the worst consequences of climate change that adversely affects biodiversity, natural resources and the inhabitants of such places. The latest findings by the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois, not just seem like a possible measure to curb and compensate the effects of climate change but also looks like the only way to bring life back to the dystopia called – Sahara Desert.