Climate Change

Why is snowfall in the Sahara getting more frequent?

There are speculations that rare snowfall in the Sahara desert this time is due to climate change

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 28 January 2022

The Sahara desert, more commonly known for its hot and dry climate, is currently witnessing rare snowfall.

On January 18, 2022, temperatures had plummeted to -2 degrees Celsius near the town of Ain Sefra in northwest Algeria. The area is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains and is 1,000 metres above sea level.

However, the area has witnessed snowfall just five times in the last 43 years. This is because usually, there is not enough water in the air, despite it getting very cold at night.

The desert is much hotter most of the time, with average temperatures during the day hitting 38°C. Ain Sefra, also known as the ‘Gateway to the Sahara’, has a heat record of more than 50°C.

There are speculations that the rare snowfall this time is due to climate change.

Snowfall in the Sahara, a long cold spell in North America, very warm weather in the European part of Russia and sustained rains which sparked flooding in western European countries, have been occurring more frequently. The high recurrence of these extreme conditions stems from global warming.

Extreme weather events are going to get extremely common in the future as the climate is continuously changing due to global warming. 

Scientists expect that winters will change more than summers because of increasing climate change. Hence, we have to pay more attention to our winter weather forecasts.

As for the Sahara, with more of such unexpected events, the desert is expected to become green again in about 15,000 years.

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