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There are flowers blooming in the driest desert on Earth and they're amazing

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Emily Badiozzaman
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When you think of a desert, the mental images that spring to mind are not of the Chelsea Flower Show.

Atacama Desert

But that’s the scene that is currently spread across the driest place on earth.

Coating the sandy soil of Chile’s Atacama Desert are fields of purple, pink and white flowers. 

The phenomenon is called a “desierto florido” (desert in bloom) and is thanks to an irregular climate warming of the Pacific Ocean waters, called El Nino, which happens off the coast of northern Chile.

According to Pedro León Lobos, a botanist with Chile’s Institute of Agriculture and Livestock Research (IRA), it only happens once every five to seven years. 

The warmer waters alter the flow of air across the region, dealing potentially dramatic changes to the area’s rainfall patterns.

Normally, the Atacama desert is one of the world’s driest locations, on average getting less than 4 millimeters of rain per year. But unusually strong rains in late March dumped seven years’ worth of rain virtually overnight on the region, causing major floods.

The devastating storms kickstarted the germination of millions of seeds of annual plants, some of which bloomed in patches across the Atacama in March. 

A post shared by @andres_gajardo64 on

Further storms in August supercharged the flowers’ growth, and more began to bloom in late September — a rare “double bloom” the likes of which have not been seen before.

More than 20,000 tourists are expected to visit the desert to see the unusual bloom. The phenomenon should continue through November.

#nofilter needed.

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