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Transcript of ATACAMA DESERT
The Atacama Desert is located in South America. It lays on the Pacific Coast, west of the Andes mountains. Southern Peru and parts of Chile are known to be a part of the Atacama Desert. Peru borders the Atacama Desert on the North and Chile borders it on the South.
What is the climate like in the Atacama Desert?
The Atacama desert is commonly known as the wolds driest desert. In the Atacama Desert the average rainfall is around 15 millimeters per year, although in some locations like Africa, only receive 1 - 3 millimeters of rainfall in a year. However, some parts of the Atacama desert have never received rain. The Atacama Desert is most likely to be the oldest desert on earth and has experienced extreme heat over the last 3 million years. Because of the extreme heat in the Atacama desert, a few of the river beds have been dry for 120,000 years. In July 2011, it was very cold in the Atacama Desert bringing 80 centimeters of snow. This is called the Altiplano winter, which can cause little rain and a few electrical storms.
What types of plants live in the Atacama Desert?
What types of animals live in the Atacama desert?
The extreme heat of the Atacama desert limits the amount of animals that live there. Some parts of the Atacama desert are so hot that no plant or animal can survive there. In the areas which aren't so hot a specific environment is provided by some small hills which are called lomas. Beetles provide a valuable food source on the lomas and desert wasps and butterflies can be found during the warm seasons especially on lomas. Sand coloured grasshoppers blend with the pebbles on the desert floor and red scorpions may also be found to in the Atacama desert. A few reptile species can be found in the Atacama desert and even less amphibian species. A few of these species are, the Atacama toad, iguanas, lava lizards and salt flat lizards. The Atacama toad lives on the lomas and lays it's eggs in ponds or streams and the salt flat lizards live in the dry areas while bordering the ocean. Birds are the largest animal group in the Atacama desert. Penguins live along the coast and flamingos go around looking for food. Other birds including hummingbirds and sparrows visit the lomas to feed on insects , nectar, seeds and flowers. Only a few mammals live in the Atacama desert such as Darwin's leaf eared mouse. Also in the less dry areas the South American gray fox lives there and seals and sea lions often gather along the coast.
What landforms does the Atacama Desert have?
The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world, other than the Antarctic Desert. The Atacama Desert is around 105, 000 square kilometers but if you include parts of the Andes mountains it's size rises to 128,000 square kilometers. Some of the landforms that the Atacama desert include are sand dunes, stony terrains, volcanoes, salt lakes, lava flows, Oasis, Canyons, Caves, Cliffs and Valleys.
Can water be found in the Atacama desert?
Do any indigenous groups of people live in the Atacama desert?
Do tourists visit the Atacama Desert?
What type of exploration has taken place in the Atacama Desert?
Is the Atacama desert being protected so that it can be preserved for future generations?
There are over 500 species of plants which have been gathered around the border of the Atacama desert. The species of plants which are in the desert, have a very good ability to adapt to the harsh environment. The most common species of plants in the Atacama desert are the herbs and the flowers such as thyme, llareta and saltgrass. The llareta is one of the highest growing wood species all around the world. It's height is between 3000 meters to 5000 meters and it is 3to 4 meters thick.
In the Atacama desert you will also find some cacti which can reach a height of 7 meters and it's width can reach up to 70 centimeters. Cactus species include the candelabro and cardon.
There is an ocean current which runs through the Atacama desert and is called the Humboldt Current or the Peru current. The Humboldt Current carries cold Antarctic water along the western coast of South America then swirling just offshore into the Pacific Ocean.
A few river beds in the Atacama desert have been dry for around 120,000 years. A few years ago a complex river system was built in the Atacama desert but because of the extreme heat the river has dried up.
About 70 miles south of the coastal city there is a giant hand sculpture located in the Atacama desert.The giant hand is about eleven meters tall and is reaching up out of the deserts sand. The sculpture is called Mano de Desierto and was made by a sculptor in Chile. The giant hand was built in the early 1980's and was opened to the public in 1992. Today the sculpture has become a great place to stop for tourists all around the world.
In the Atacama desert there was an indigenous group of people who lived there and they are called the Atacameno people. The Atacameno people have lived in the Atacama desert thousands of years. They began as hunter but then they reached a point where they farmed and raised llamas. They survived in the Atacama desert because of there strategy of moving between small villages. The Atacameno people also had a trading economy where they would use caravans to exchange goods such as livestock, agriculture products, crafts and metal. There is about 21,000 people in Chile that say there apart of the Atacameno people.
In the Atacama desert there has been a lot of mining over the last few years. In the 16th to the 18th century people mined silver. today there are some very big copper mines in the Atacama desert. In the Atacama desert many people mined a chemical called sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate made fertilizers and explosives.There are many cities along the coast close to the Atacama desert. There are ports along the coast that ship the mining products to other places. Many people have been to the Atacama desert and have explored the area.
A Canadian Company called Barrack Gold is located in the Atacama desert. It is known as the largest gold mining company in the world. This project will have a big impact on the environment and the people living below the valleys. The mine will also have a huge impact on the Atacama deserts wildlife and would destroy their habitat. Greenpeace in Argentina and Chile are against Barrack Gold for the protection of the environment and the local communities today. They are actively campaigning against this mine.