From Sand to Vast Lakes: Storm Daniel's Transformation of Libya's Desert Landscape
In an unprecedented display of nature’s force, Storm Daniel, responsible for a staggering 5,200 fatalities and 8,000 disappearances in northeast Libya, also crafted vast desert lakes visible even from outer space.
Images captured by the European Copernicus program’s Sentinel 2 satellite, taken between September 2 and 12, paint a vivid contrast. Initially, the landscape south of Cyrenaica appeared as a blanket of sand. But merely ten days later, sprawling flooded channels emerged, carving their way southward through the desert. These waters formed vast, brilliantly blue lakes, some extending more than ten kilometers. Astoundingly, these eastern Libyan desert regions typically receive less than 50 millimeters of rainfall annually.
Originating as a low-pressure weather system around September 4, Storm Daniel evolved into a Mediterranean cyclone that persisted for over a week. Such climatic events, according to Professor Liz Stephens of the University of Reading’s Climate Risk and Resilience department, are uncommon, especially along the arid Libyan coast. “Grasping the potential of such extreme, devastating events in dry climates, where rains are rare and sporadic, complicates our ability to create resilient infrastructure,” she noted.
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