The Ubari Sand Sea.

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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.
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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.
Read and see more via The Lakes of Ubari Sand Sea | Amusing Planet.

The Beauty of Namibia’s Wild Places.

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Whether you love beautiful scenery or wildlife, Namibia may be the location to plan your next vacation. It is home to the Namib Desert, considered the oldest desert in the world, and is filled with national parks and reserves.
Some, including Etosha National Park, are dedicated to wildlife; others focus on beautiful landscapes.
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Namib-Naukluft Park, the largest conservation area in Africa and the fourth largest in the world, features the country’s most famous and photogenic natural wonders: towering, 300-meter-tall red sand dunes, the largest in the world.
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Namibia, one of the first countries in the world to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution, received the Gift to the Earth Award from the World Wildlife Fund this past October for conservation acheivements.
via Photos: Namibia’s Wild Places | Travel | Smithsonian.

Morning Moon, Kenya.

KenyaTauridTafreshi_DSC8027cs.jpgKenya Morning Moon, Planets, and Taurid. Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)
In November, a waning crescent Moon joined the continuing parade of planets in Earth’s early morning skies.
Captured here from Amboseli National Park, Kenya, even the overexposed moonlight can’t wash out brilliant Venus though, lined up near the ecliptic plane with faint Mars and bright Jupiter above.
As if Moon and planets aren’t enough, a comparably bright Taurid meteor also streaks through the scene.
In fact November’s Taurid meteor showers have had a high proportion of bright fireballs.
Apparently streaming from radiants in Taurus, the meteors are caused by our fair planet’s annual passage through debris from Comet 2P/Encke.
See more via APOD: 2015 November 12 – Kenya Morning Moon, Planets and Taurid

Lewis Glacier on Mount Kenya melts down.

3267a52c-9ece-4783-b11a-e78b0d28b17d-1020x765Mount Kenya, by Simon Norfolk, United Kingdom.
These fire lines I have drawn with a pyrograph indicate where the front of the rapidly disappearing Lewis Glacier on Mount Kenya was at various times in the recent past.
In the distance, a harvest moon lights the doomed glacier remnant; the gap between the fire and ice represents the relentless melting.
Relying on old maps and modern GPS I have made a stratified history of the glacier’s retreat.
This flame line shows the glacier’s location in 1963
Winner, Landscape
via Sony world photography awards 2015: the winners – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian.

The Salt Mining Elephants of Mount Elgon.

Large herbivores such as elephants often seek out natural mineral deposits such as rocks and soil to supplement their dietary intake of sodium whenever the mineral is not obtained in adequate quantities from woody plants and natural water which elephants consume.
So it is not uncommon to find elephants devouring soil and licking rocks high in sodium content.
In Mount Elgon National Park on the Kenya-Uganda border, elephants have taken this activity a step further—they have learned to quarry sodium-rich rocks on the base of a 24-million-years-old extinct volcano called Mount Elgon.
Mount Elgon is believed to be the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa.
Because of its unusually large form—an 80 kilometer wide base and a peak that rises 3,000 meters from the surrounding plains— Mount Elgon doesn’t have the typical sharp rise of a volcanic mountain.
The rise is more gradual, and as the land rises the vegetation changes and so does the climate. The forest becomes thicker and air becomes chilled.
Many rare plants and animals seek shelter in the higher slopes of Mount Elgon to escape the heat of the plains.
The elephants prefer to stay in the lower slopes where there are a number of caves and salt is plenty.
These caves are quite voluminous, with up to 150 meters long, 60 meters wide, and some 10 meters high.
There is evidence that these caves have been artificially expanded by thousands of years of mining—not by humans, but by the pachyderms.
Source: The Salt Mining Elephants of Mount Elgon | Amusing Planet

The Queen of the Night.

The Queen of the Night
Image Credit: Photograph by Seyms Brugger, South Africa.
This image was a once in a lifetime experience, photographed from an underground hide at Zimanga Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
While one when can only dream that a pride of lions would come to drink, it became a reality when the local pride arrived just before 1900 hours
Source: The Queen of the Night | Smithsonian Photo Contest | Smithsonian