A long-standing lake in the middle of the dunes

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Long duration westerly winds shaped the dunes surrounding the Saudi oasis of Jubbah in this photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS). Jubbah sits in the wind shielding shadow of Jabel Umm Sinman, which roughly translates from Arabic to “two mountains on camels. The hard, black rock of the mountain disrupts the flow of the wind and prevents dunes from forming on its leeward side. The area around Jabel Umm Sinman has been at the center of significant climatic and anthropological changes during the holocene, a geological term for the last 10,000 years.

Jubbah is built in the basin of a paleolake in the middle of the Nefud Desert, about 650 kilometers northwest of Riyadh. A paleolake is an area where a lake previously existed, but no longer contains water due to a change in climate. Today, the ancient lake bed rests hundreds of feet below the nearby dunes.

Before the desertification of the Arabian Peninsula, Lake Jubbah was one of the network of fresh water sources in what was then a more…

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Copyright @ earthobservatory.nasa.gov

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