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The Sahara  is the world's hottest de sert, the third largest desert after Antarctica and the Arcti c. At over 9,400,000
300px-Sahara satellite hires
square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi), it covers most of North Africa, making it almost as large as China or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna that composes the northern region of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the sand dunes can reach 180 metres (590 ft) in height. The name comes from the plural Arabic language word for desert.

GeographyEdit

The Sahara covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia. It is one of three distinct physiographic provinces of the African massive physiographic division.

The desert landforms of the Sahara are shaped by wind or by occasional rains and include sand dunes and dune fields or sand seas (erg), stone plateaus (hamada), gravel plains (reg), dry valleys, and salt flats (shatt or chott). Unusual landforms include the Richat Structure in Mauritania.

Richat StructureEdit

The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature
250px-ASTER Richat
in the Sahara desert of west–central Mauritania near Ouadane. This structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical, 40 km in diameter, dome. The sedimentary rock exposed in this dome ranges in age from Late Proterozoic within the center of the dome to Ordovician sandstone around its edges. The sedimentary rocks comprising this structure dip outward at 10°–20°. Differential erosion of resistant layers of quartzite has created high-relief circular cuestas. Its center consists of a siliceous breccia covering an area that is at least 3 km in diameter.

ClimateEdit

The climate of the Sahara has undergone enormous variations between wet and dry over the last few hundred thousand years.This is due to a 41000 year cycle in which the tilt of the earth changes between 22° and 24.5°. At present (2000 AD), we are in a dry period, but it is expected that the Sahara will become green again in 15000 years (17000 AD).

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