A new study has revealed that the strange circular patches known as “fairy circles” are not limited to Namibia and Australia, but can be found in 15 countries and 250 locations worldwide. These enigmatic patterns consist of bare soils surrounded by rings of vegetation, and their formation has puzzled scientists for decades.
Using artificial intelligence to analyze satellite images, researchers have identified 263 sites where fairy circles have been observed. These sites include regions in the Sahel, Western Sahara, Horn of Africa, Madagascar, Southwest Asia, and central Australia. The findings of the study indicate that fairy circles are much more common than previously believed.
The study also identified certain soil and climate characteristics associated with the presence of fairy circles. These include low nitrogen content in the soil and average precipitation of less than 200 mm/year. Factors such as albedo and groundwater conditions were considered in the analysis. The researchers suggested that excessive groundwater use in arid areas could alter the formation of fairy circles.
Understanding the causes and ecological importance of these vegetative patterns is crucial. It is now possible to investigate the impact of fairy circles on ecosystem functioning and their potential as indicators of ecosystem degradation due to climate change. The study has also resulted in the creation of a global atlas of fairy circles and a database that could assist future research on their resilience to climate change and other disturbances.
In conclusion, mapping fairy circles in various countries sheds new light on their global distribution and provides valuable insights into their formation and ecological importance. Further research will be necessary to unravel the mysteries of these intriguing patterns and their possible role in understanding the effects of climate change on ecosystems.
– “Mapping of fairy circles expands their global dimensions” – University of Alicante (UA)
– Study published in the journal PNAS, titled “Global distribution and environmental conditions of fairy circles.”