Atacama: English
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The Atacama Desert, Chile

Introduction: The Atacama desert (1)

p.1 | p.2p.3 | flowering desert: p.1 | p.2

Museo Virtual, Atacama
W. Griem, 2014, 2017
Atacama desert, Chile

Panoramic view of the Llano de Varas sector - Sierra Fraga - Atacama desert, Chile

Información Foto:
Cámara Kodak DX6490 | Longitud focal: 36,2mm (=218/35mm) | Tiempo: 1:250 | F: f/4 | Tamaño original: 2304 x 1728 | Fecha: 2007/06/9/17:31 hrs.


Information Chart
The Atacama Desert extends from the city of Copiapó to the north of the country. Between Copiapó and La Serena the amount of rainfall increases gradually. The Atacama Desert in the Atacama Region can be characterized as a rocky desert. Dunes and other wind structures have formed in only a few places (see Atacama dunes). Precipitations are generally very scarce only towards the high mountain range increasing amounts.
In addition, the Atacama Desert can be divided into two different types: a) Heat desert corresponds to the low areas (approx. below 3400m above sea level), then the coastal mountain range, longitudinal valley and part of the pre-medium range. Here the main climatic factors are heat and lack of precipitation. The mountain ranges, the salt flats depression and parts of the pre-mediterranean range belong more to a desert of high altitude cold. In other words, the development of dense vegetation has its limitations mainly due to low temperatures. The limits of both types of desert are often recognized by a certain increase in vegetation.

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Atacama desert, Chile

Photo: Atacama Desert nearby Carrera Pinto  (Foto W. Griem; 2009; XSi 2483) - Large Photo

Información Foto:
Cámara Canon XSi | Lente: 17-70mm +pol. | Longitud focal: 36mm | Tiempo: 1:160 | ISO1000
F: f/6.3 | Tamaño original: 4272 x 2848 | Fecha: 2009/07/10/14:54hrs.

Rainfall is also very variable. Summers are dry only in winter you can expect heavy rainfalls. In the high mountain range, heavy rainfall during the summer is common, known for the phenomenon of "high plateau winter". In summer the temperatures reach 30ºC during the day. At night, temperatures always drop to around 10º C. In the Pacific Ocean, the difference is not so marked.
As you can imagine, the desert climate affects all of nature, flora, fauna, morphology and geology.

Desert climatic conditions produce very special geological phenomena:
The morphology of arid sectors is completely different in comparison to higher rainfall sectors. In the desert there are different forms of weathering and erosion compared to "normal"places. The wind also plays a very important role in the formation of landscape.

It is also necessary to mention the optical phenomena in the desert: Of course the mythical reflection of buildings, boats etc. does not exist - but a fatamorgana that produces the "cut off hills" or something that can be a lake is not rare. Also, and that is the most special thing, there are often no objects of comparison - trees, houses etc. that allow our eye to estimate distances or heights. It means some distances are much shorter than others are much longer as initially estimated. See here Philippi's text HERE

The fauna and flora adapted in very special ways to the harsh climatic conditions. The Atacama Desert is not a dead place, life has adapted, you just have to search.
See fauna and flora module. HERE


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Cactus in the Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama desert, Chile. (Panasonic-313; 2008) - Large Photo

Información Foto:
Cámara Panasonic DMC-FZ18 | Longitud focal: 42.9mm | Tiempo: 1:400 | ISO100
F: f/5.6 | Tamaño original (px): 3264 x 2448 | Fecha: 2009/01/12/12:19hrs.

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Atacama Region, Chile- en english

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Published: 21.1.2015, updated: 18.9.2017
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