When people from the small town of Ain Sefra, Algeria woke up on Sunday, January 7, they were in for a surprise. For the second time in a little over a year, white, powdery snow left a light blanket over the Sahara Desert. And though it had already melted by late afternoon, local photographer Karim Bouchetata was once again able to capture the surreal scene.
Bouchetata also photographed the December 2016 Sahara snowfall, which was the first in 37 years. And though Algeria is a long way off from the East Coast of the United States, the same cold front contributed to snow in both places. Cold air that caused heavy snowfall on the East Coast crossed the Atlantic, making temperatures drop in unexpected places, like the Sahara. The result is the thin layer of snow across the sandy desert.
But given that the photos appear to be taken in areas located at a higher altitude, a spokesperson for The Met Office told The Independent that snow isn't as unusual as one would think. “It seems like the snowy pictures were taken across the higher areas in the north of the region, towards the Atlas regions, so it’s not surprising that the area would see some snow if the conditions were right.”
Regardless, the recurrence of snow in the Sahara is just another sign of changing climates around the world. From polar bears living without snow to the installation of artificial reefs as a replacement for natural habitats, shifting climates are impacting animals—and humans—across the globe.