Climate patterns and their impact on the vegetation in a fog driven desert: The Central Namib Desert in Namibia
Hachfeld, Berit; Jürgens, Norbert
The Central Namib Desert can serve as a model for vegetation-climate related patterns: The landscape exhibits vast plains lacking any strong disturbances. Within the desert, coastal plains are characterised by mild air temperatures, continuously high air humidity by fog and no rain. The opposite is true for the continental eastern part of the desert, where high air temperatures, low air humidity and increasing regularity of summer rainfall prevail. Between both, a zone of most extreme climatic conditions exists with a nearly continuous lack of moisture input by rain or fog, but very high air temperatures and low air humidity. In order to understand the impact of this steep climatic gradient on the vegetation, an extensive climate monitoring programme has been installed since 1995, comprising automatic weather stations, thermohygrographs and small scale fog measurements along a coast to inland transect of 120 km length. Analysis of both, vegetation and climate, reveal a strong correlation with respect to species richness, total canopy cover, composition of growth forms, and vegetation units. The Minimum Zone in the midst of the desert emphasises the impact climate patterns have on desert vegetation.