Oum al-Maa Lake, Ubari Sand Sea. Photo credit: unknown
The Ubari Sand Sea is a vast area of towering sand dunes in the Fezzan region of south-western Libya.
But 200,000 years ago, this was a wet and fertile region with plenty of rainfall and flowing rivers.
These rivers fed a vast lake, the size of Czech Republic, in the Fezzan basin called Lake Megafezzan. During humid periods the lake reached a maximum size of 120,000 square kilometers.
Oum al-Maa Lake. Photo credit: George Steinmetz
Climate change caused the region, a part of Sahara, to gradually dry up and between 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, the lake evaporated away into thin air.
Traces of this great lake still exist today in the form of micro lakes scattered among the towering dunes like wet patches in the desert.
Currently there are about 20 lakes in the Ubari Sand Sea – beautiful palm-fringed oases that appear like anomalies in the harsh desert environment.