'World’s largest' nabkha discovered in UNESCO-tagged Lut Desert

October 11, 2021 - 17:14

TEHRAN – The "world’s largest" nabkha (coppice dune) has recently been discovered within the UNESCO-registered Lut Desert in the barren heartland of Iran, the director of the World Heritage site has announced. 

Having a height of 21 meters, the recently discovered nabkha is taller than those in Africa and some desert regions of the world, IRNA quoted Mehran Maqsudi as saying on Monday. 

Before this discovery, other nabkhas that are found in Lut Desert and are 11 to 12 meters high, were considered some of the tallest in the world, the official explained. 

The outcome of this field research and discovery has been published in reputable scientific journals in the form of a scientific article with details, he added. 

One of the spectacular phenomena of the Lut Desert is nabkha, also known as coppice dune, shrub-coppice, hummock, rebdou, or photogenic mound. 

The creation of nabaka is closely linked to the type of plant, wind direction, and the amount of sand source. In the desert lands, everything is created from wind and soil erosion and saltwater, but nabkha symbolizes the synergy of the plants and the arid region of the Lut Desert. 

Lut Desert and Sahara in Africa are the only places in the world that nabkha are observed. Nabkha is generally found on flat surfaces with moderate sand levels and high groundwater levels or enough moisture to grow plants.

These natural phenomena are a result of the interaction of wind erosion, moisture, and vegetation of the area. The plants gradually from sand dunes at the bottom by obstructing the sand storm and accumulating sand.

The origin of nabkha is the plants, however, it can be considered that nabakha will be formed in all desert lands where vegetable life is in progress. 

Nabakha's shape is a function of the size, density, and growth of the host plant. There is a type of Tamarisk tree in the region that is the main host of the nabkha. These Tamarisk trees must have a height of 10 to 15 centimeters in length at least to be able to control the sand. 

If the sand grains do not adhere to the clay elements, their volume might be changed by variations of wind speed. By increasing the amount of sand at the foot of the plant, the plant continues to grow in an upward direction to prevent its burial. The plant continues growing as well as the plant's root is connected to the groundwater level. But where the groundwater level drops, nabkha dies.

Lut Desert, the hottest spot on Earth

The Lut Desert, widely referred to as Dasht-e Lut (“Emptiness Plain”), is a large salt desert encircled by the provinces of Kerman and Sistan- Baluchestan, and South Khorasan. It is the world’s 27th-largest desert and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on July 17, 2016.

The Lut Desert is teemed with giant dunes, shifting sands, salt plains, and wind-hewn kaluts, offering visitors epic journeys of breathtaking beauty and wilderness. It is a destination for people who are in search of new adventures; outstanding scenery and unparalleled serenity

The scorching desert is also being considered one of the top areas in the world for finding meteorites, thanks to its unique parameters. In recent years, significant finds have been made, with the efforts of national and international teams of researchers.

Seven years of satellite temperature data analyzed by NASA show that the Lut Desert is the hottest spot on Earth. Based on the research, it was the hottest during 5 of the 7 years and had the highest temperature overall: 70.7°C in 2005.

ABU/AFM
 

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