How come the Sahara is larger than the great desert in Africa?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

An Unusual Observation

The Sahara and the Great Desert in Africa are two of the largest deserts in the world. However, an unusual observation is that the Sahara is larger than the Great Desert in Africa, despite being located in the same region. This raises questions about the factors that determine the size of a desert and why the Sahara is larger than its neighbor.

The Great Desert in Africa

The Great Desert in Africa, also known as the Libyan Desert, covers an area of approximately 1.1 million square kilometers. It is located in the northern part of Africa and spans across several countries, including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. The Great Desert is characterized by vast sand dunes, rocky plateaus, and occasional oases. It is the driest and most arid region in Africa, with rainfall averaging less than 20 millimeters per year.

The Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world, covering an area of approximately 9.2 million square kilometers. It spans across eleven countries in North Africa, including Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, Tunisia, and Mauritania. The Sahara is characterized by vast sand dunes, rocky plateaus, and sparse vegetation. Despite being one of the hottest regions on Earth, the Sahara experiences significant temperature fluctuations between day and night.

Physical Characteristics of the Two Deserts

In terms of physical characteristics, the Sahara and the Great Desert in Africa share many similarities. Both deserts are located in the same region and are characterized by vast sand dunes, rocky plateaus, and occasional oases. However, the Sahara is larger and more diverse in terms of topography and geology. It has more mountain ranges, plateaus, and different types of sand dunes, which contributes to its greater size.

Climatic Differences between the Two Deserts

One of the main factors that determine the size of a desert is the climate. The Sahara and the Great Desert in Africa have distinct climatic differences, which contribute to the size difference. The Sahara is located in a region with more extreme temperatures, more wind, and less rainfall than the Great Desert. The Great Desert has a more stable climate, with less extreme temperatures and more rainfall. These climatic differences contribute to the Sahara being larger and more arid than the Great Desert.

Historical Factors behind the Size of the Sahara

The size of the Sahara has been influenced by a range of historical factors, including tectonic movements and ocean currents. Over millions of years, tectonic movements have caused the Sahara to expand and contract. Additionally, ocean currents have influenced rainfall patterns, which have affected the size and shape of the Sahara.

The Role of Tectonic Movements

Tectonic movements have played a significant role in shaping the Sahara. Over millions of years, the Sahara has expanded and contracted in response to tectonic activity. The movement of the African and Eurasian plates has caused the Sahara to shift and expand, creating new topographical features such as mountains and plateaus.

The Influence of Ocean Currents

Ocean currents have also played a role in shaping the Sahara. The Sahara is located in a region where ocean currents have a significant impact on rainfall patterns. Changes in ocean currents have historically caused the Sahara to expand and contract, with periods of increased rainfall resulting in the growth of vegetation and the formation of lakes.

Human Activities and Desertification

Human activities such as overgrazing, deforestation, and unsustainable agricultural practices have also contributed to the expansion of the Sahara. These activities have led to soil erosion, which has made it difficult for vegetation to grow and contributed to desertification.

The Future of the Two Deserts

The future of the Sahara and the Great Desert in Africa is uncertain. Climate change and human activities are expected to continue to impact the size and shape of these deserts. However, efforts are being made to mitigate the effects of these factors, such as reforestation and sustainable agriculture practices.

Conclusion: Understanding the Size Differences

In conclusion, the size differences between the Sahara and the Great Desert in Africa can be attributed to a range of factors, including physical characteristics, climatic differences, historical factors, and human activities. Understanding these factors is essential for predicting the future of these deserts and developing strategies to mitigate their expansion.

References and Further Reading

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2021). Sahara. https://www.britannica.com/place/Sahara-desert-Africa
  • National Geographic. (2021). Sahara Desert.
  • UNEP. (2021). The Great Desert.
Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment