The Bodélé depression has the formidable title of “dustiest place on Earth”.
The dust from this enormous region is vital to the Amazon and Atlantic ecosystems which help to control global warming.
Every year 200 – 350 million tonnes of dust are whipped up high into the atmosphere from this super dry region.
The dust is then blown westward by low level jet streams as far as the Amazon Basin 8,000 kilometres away.
Strangely, the dusty conditions are the result of a much wetter climate that existed more than 6,000 years ago: this led to large areas of the Central Sahara being covered by giant lakes.
The Bodélé depression is the dried remains of one of these lakes called Lake Mega-Chad.
At one point Mega-Chad was bigger than all the Great Lakes put together. However the lake today, called Lake Chad, has shrunk to around one percent of its former size.
The brittle surface of the lake bed and the strong Saharan winds are perfect conditions for blowing dust into the atmosphere.
The most dust is picked up during spring when seasonal Harmattan winds scour the surface of the Bodélé.
The Amazon Basin is heavily reliant on the minerals and organic matter carried in the dust from the Bodélé.
This process is crucial to the survival of the Amazon which helps to reduce global CO2 levels.
Dust that settles over the Atlantic Ocean also provides nutrients for algae growth on the ocean surface.
The algae absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere thus further helping to reduce global CO2 levels.