Sahara Desert Is Covered in Glittery Ice Crystals During a Rare Ice Dusting

Ice and desert are two words that go together like oil and water. They seem at odds with one another; especially the Sahara, the largest and hottest desert on Earth that's known for its inhospitable climate. So imagine how magical it looks when the sand is sparkling with ice crystals like it did in the middle of January 2021.

The frosty ground is a rare sight. In fact, this recent occurrence was only the fourth time in 42 years that the ice made its appearance. When it has happened, it hasn’t lasted long. Luckily, photographer Karim Bouchetata was there to capture the marvelous sight this time around. The mingling of the ice and the red sand—particularly in the wavy drifts—is both a beautiful and enchanting look at a place best known for its extremely hot temperatures that last for months at a time.

Bouchetata snapped his photos and took video outside of the town of Ain Sefra in northwestern Algeria near the border of Morocco. It’s about 1,000 feet above sea level and among the Atlas Mountains, meaning snow is a possibility. And although it is indeed rare, this bit of ice is nothing compared to the snowfall from December 2016 and January 2018 which saw over two feet of precipitation in some places. Before then, the Sahara hadn’t seen any snow or ice since 1979!

Photographer Karim Bouchetata captured these enchanting photos of ice crystals scattered across the Sahara.

Karim Bouchetata: Twitter
h/t: [IFL Science]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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