Scientists Discover Deserts Filled With Billions Of Trees Contradicting Previous Research

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Scientists Discover Deserts Filled With Billions Of Trees Contradicting Previous Research

Photo: Illustration: © Getty Images / Buena Vista Images

When we think of the desert, we usually think of a barren landscape of sand dunes devoid of life and vegetation. Well, that may not exactly be true according to new research carried out by a team of scientists from Europe, Africa and the United States.

Their research using satellite imagery found that in the Sahara and Sahel deserts, two of the biggest deserts in the world, that there does in fact exist 1.8 billion trees! A calculation that the scientists think is likely an underestimate due to the satellites only being able to pick up the larger crops of vegetation.

The team used 11,000 satellite images covering 1.3 million square kilometres and specialised computer software to find the total number of trees believed to be in the deserts. They were amazed with what they found. The research also contradicts and debunks previous estimates, mostly carried out by in-person surveys, that suggested that the deserts were indeed barren.

Martin Brandt, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Copenhagen, and leader of the project, said:

"We were very surprised that there are quite so many trees growing in the Sahara desert. The level of detail is very high and the model needs to know how all kinds of different trees in different landscapes look. I didn't accept misclassifications and further added training when I saw wrongly classified trees. Certainly there are vast areas without any trees, but there are still areas with a high tree density, and even between the sandy dunes, there are here and there some trees growing."

The total coverage averaged out at 13.4 trees per square hectare.

Increased desertification is an extreme worry for conservationists who see the world's deserts growing continuously in size, swallowing up vegetation, animal habitats and farmland. However, this research does at least suggest that not all may be lost with the advance of the deserts.

A desert is defined as an area where little precipitation, rain, occurs. Contrary to popular belief, the Sahara is not the largest desert in the world, it is, in fact, Antarctica, which claims the title as the world's largest desert. It is also often mistakenly believed that almost no life exists in the desert at all while, in fact, there is an abundance of different creatures that make the world's deserts their home, including lizards, small mammals and nomadic grazing creatures.

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Thinking Humanity: Scientists Discover Deserts Filled With Billions Of Trees Contradicting Previous Research
Scientists Discover Deserts Filled With Billions Of Trees Contradicting Previous Research
When we think of the desert we usually think of a barren landscape of sand dunes devoid of life and vegetation. Well that may not exactly be true acco
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