Reflections on the Surface

July 9, 2007

Cryptobiotic Soil

Filed under: Environment,global warming,Life,Nature,Thoughts — asharpminor @ 1:50 pm

Canyonlands, Utah.

Cryptobiotic soil is widespread in the deserts of the American West. Covering as much as 70% of the deserts, it is remarkable for its ability to hold the surface of the landform together and to retain water in incredibly arid conditions.
Visiting Canyonlands recently I was privileged to see this remarkable stuff, which literally holds it all together. Pour a small amount of water on it and watch it glow green in a few seconds.
This week, much of the American West is sweltering beneath a torrid heat, a high pressure system that has become blocked for a while. Of course, three hundred million years ago the Colorado Plateau was a vast desert, much of which has become petrified as sliprock and which, from ten thousand feet up looks like a huge sea.
One of the predictions for global warming is that this region will once again, return to an uninhabitable desert stretching across parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and of course Nevada where Las Vegas is a booming city, sucking water from Lakes Mead and Powell like a sponge.
Dawn, Valley of the Gods, Utah

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