This article needs additional citations for verification . (December 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Part of the nature series|
The Harmattan is a season in the West African subcontinent, which occurs between the end of November and the middle of March. It is characterized by the dryand dusty northeasterly trade wind, of the same name, which blows from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. The name is related to the word haramata in the Twi language. The temperature is cold in most places, but can also be hot in certain places, depending on local circumstances.
A season is a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and amount of daylight. On Earth, seasons result from Earth's orbit around the Sun and Earth's axial tilt relative to the ecliptic plane. In temperate and polar regions, the seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, variations of which may cause animals to undergo hibernation or to migrate, and plants to be dormant. Various cultures define the number and nature of seasons based on regional variations.
West Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The population of West Africa is estimated at about 362 million people as of 2016, and at 381,981,000 as of 2017, to which 189,672,000 are female, and 192,309,000 male.
The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf.
The Harmattan blows during the dry season, which occurs during the lowest-sun months. In this season the subtropical ridge of high pressure stays over the central Sahara Desert and the low-pressure Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) stays over the Gulf of Guinea. On its passage over the Sahara, the harmattan picks up fine dust and sand particles (between 0.5 and 10 microns).
The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms, is the area encircling Earth near the Equator, where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge.
The Harmattan season differs from winter, because it is characterized by cold, dry, dust-laden wind, and also wide fluctuations in the ambient temperatures of the day and night. Temperatures can easily be as low as 9 °C (48 °F) all day, but sometimes in the afternoon the temperature can also soar to as high as 30 °C (86 °F), while the relative humidity drops under 10%.
Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones. It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the Sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value. The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit.
Relative humidity (RH) is the ratio of the partial pressure of water vapor to the equilibrium vapor pressure of water at a given temperature. Relative humidity depends on temperature and the pressure of the system of interest. The same amount of water vapor results in higher relative humidity in cool air than warm air. A related parameter is that of dewpoint.
The air is particularly dry and desiccating when the Harmattan blows over the region. [ citation needed ] The wind can increase fire risk and cause severe crop damage. The interaction of the Harmattan with monsoon winds can cause tornadoes.The Harmattan brings desert-like weather conditions: it lowers the humidity, dissipates cloud cover, prevents rainfall formation and sometimes creates big clouds of dust which can result in dust storms or sandstorms.
A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Fine particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another.
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea. Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase. The term is sometimes incorrectly used for locally heavy but short-term rains, although these rains meet the dictionary definition of monsoon.
In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days,comparable to a heavy fog. This effect is known as the Harmattan haze. It costs airlines millions of dollars in cancelled and diverted flights each year. When the haze is weak, the skies are clear. The dry air can break the trunks of trees growing in the region.
Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.
Humidity drops to as low as 15%, which can result in spontaneous nosebleeds for some people.Other health effects on humans may include conditions of the skin (dryness of the skin), eyes, and respiratory system, including aggravation of asthma.
Asthma is a common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These may occur a few times a day or a few times per week. Depending on the person, they may become worse at night or with exercise.
Cape Verde is a group of arid Atlantic islands which are home to a number of birds and reptiles and constitute a unique ecoregion in the World Wildlife Fund classification.
Frost is a thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point. In temperate climates, it most commonly appears on surfaces near the ground as fragile white crystals; in cold climates, it occurs in a greater variety of forms. The propagation of crystal formation occurs by the process of nucleation.
Nigeria is a country in West Africa. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the south and it borders Lake Chad to the northeast. Noted geographical features in Nigeria include the Adamawa highlands, Mambilla Plateau, Jos Plateau, Obudu Plateau, the Niger River, River Benue and Niger Delta.
Western Sahara is a territory in Northern Africa, bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, Morocco proper, Algeria, and Mauritania. Geographic coordinates:
Mauritania, a country in the western region of the continent of Africa, is generally flat, its 1,030,700 square kilometres forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges and clifflike outcroppings. It borders the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara, Mali and Algeria. It is considered part of both the Sahel and the Maghreb. A series of scarps face southwest, longitudinally bisecting these plains in the center of the country. The scarps also separate a series of sandstone plateaus, the highest of which is the Adrar Plateau, reaching an elevation of 500 metres. Spring-fed oases lie at the foot of some of the scarps. Isolated peaks, often rich in minerals, rise above the plateaus; the smaller peaks are called guelbs and the larger ones kedias. The concentric Guelb er Richat is a prominent feature of the north-central region. Kediet ej Jill, near the city of Zouîrât, has an elevation of 1,000 metres and is the highest peak.
Mali is a landlocked nation in West Africa, located southwest of Algeria, extending south-west from the southern Sahara Desert through the Sahel to the Sudanian savanna zone. Mali's size is 1,240,192 square kilometers.
Benin, a narrow, key-shaped, north-south strip of land in West Africa, lies between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Benin's latitude ranges from 6°30′ N to 12°30′ N and its longitude from 1° E to 3°40′ E. Benin is bounded by Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Nigeria to the east, and the Bight of Benin to the south.
The Santa Ana winds are strong, extremely dry downslope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California. They originate from cool, dry high-pressure air masses in the Great Basin.
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The name is derived from the Arabic word sāḥil meaning "coast" or "shore" in a figurative sense, while the name in Swahili means "coastal [dweller]" in a literal sense.
The Sahara is a desert located on the African continent. It is the largest hot desert in the world, and the third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi) is comparable to the area of China or the United States. The name 'Sahara' is derived from a dialectal Arabic word for "desert", ṣaḥra.
The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of surface winds from the east toward the west (easterly) found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower part of the troposphere near the Earth's equator. The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere, strengthening during the winter and when the Arctic oscillation is in its warm phase. Trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world's oceans for centuries, and enabled colonial expansion into the Americas and trade routes to become established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Desert ecology is the study of interactions between both biotic and abiotic components of desert environments. A desert ecosystem is defined by interactions between organism populations, the climate in which they live, and any other non-living influences on the habitat. Deserts are arid regions which are generally associated with warm temperatures, however cold deserts also exist. Deserts can be found on every continent, with the largest deserts located in Antarctica, the Arctic, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.
The Loo is a strong, dusty, gusty, hot and dry summer wind from the west which blows over the western Indo-Gangetic Plain region of North India and Pakistan. It is especially strong in the months of May and June. Due to its very high temperatures, exposure to it often leads to fatal heatstrokes.
The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is an extremely hot, dry and sometimes dust-laden layer of the atmosphere that often overlies the cooler, more-humid surface air of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Sahara Desert region of North Africa, where it originates, it is the prevalent atmosphere, extending from the surface upwards several kilometers. As it drives, or is driven, out over the ocean, it is lifted above the denser marine air. This arrangement is an inversion where the temperature increases with height. The boundary between the SAL and the marine layer suppresses or "caps" any convection originating in the marine layer. Since it is dry air, the lapse rate within the SAL itself is steep, that is, the temperature falls rapidly with height.
The climate of Delhi is an overlap between monsoon-influenced humid subtropical and semi-arid, with high variation between summer and winter temperatures and precipitation. Delhi's version of a humid subtropical climate is markedly different from many other humid subtropical cities such as Sao Paulo, New Orleans and Brisbane in that the city features dust storms, has relatively dry short winters and has a prolonged spell of very hot weather, due to its semi-arid climate.
The Atlantic coastal desert is the westernmost ecoregion in the Sahara Desert of North Africa. It occupies a narrow strip along the Atlantic coast, where the more frequent fog and haze generated offshore by the cool Canary Current provides sufficient moisture to sustain a variety of lichens, succulents, and shrubs.
A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.
Egypt essentially has a hot desert climate. The climate is generally extremely dry all over the country except on the northern Mediterranean coast which receives rainfall in winter. In addition to rarity of rain, extreme heat during summer months is also a general climate feature of Egypt although daytime temperatures are more moderated along the northern coast.
The chergui or sharqi is the name of a continental easterly or southeasterly wind which blows on the southernmost part of Morocco, a hot and dry wind coming from the Sahara Desert. This wind can be compared with the sirocco, a very hot and very dry desert wind. The Arabic word means "coming from the east", as the chergui emanates from the desert east of the Atlas Mountains. This is a rain shadow wind as it falls down after passing over the top of the mountain range as a very hot and dry air into the coastal plains area towards the Atlantic ocean, which brings soaring temperatures typical of the desert, often over 40 °C (104 °F) and can even turn around 48 °C (118.4 °F) during the day at summertime and the relative humidity is extremely low, nearly always below 15%. The chergui can also more rarely blow at wintertime, and is responsible of a warm, sunny and dry weather.