NAMIB DESERT

LIVING ON THE EDGE

 

BY NANCY PARSON AND KATHY RACKLEY

CAN DO PROJECT

 

Lesson 1

GEOCAM GROUND TRUTHING

  Class Activity

 

Lesson 2

Learning About the Namib Desert

 

Using National Geographic, January, 1992, pp. 54-85, answer and discuss the following:

 1. What is the age of the Namib Desert?

 2. Describe 3 sources of water in the Namib Desert.

 3. How often is there water in the rivers? What is the annual average rainfall?

 4. How do Namib elephants differ from elephants that live in other places?

 5. How often do Namib elephants need to drink?

 6. How does the fog form and what part does it play in this ecosystem?

 7. List land forms that you see in the photographs in the article.

 8. List some of the animals and plants that live in the Namib Desert.

 9. What are some of the possible food sources in the desert?

 10. Use the lists in #8 and 9 to draw a Namib Desert food web.

11. List water sources in the desert.

12. Look at the map on page 67. What do the red arrows represent? Blue arrows?

In what direction is the wind blowing? What direction does the ocean current flow?

13. How do these animals adapt to surviving in the desert: giraffes, spiders, dune ants, lizards, tenebrionid beetles, people, lions.

 

Vocabulary list

  Extension

 

Lesson 3

MEASURING THE DEW POINT

 

 

PROBLEM:

How to determine dew point ?

MATERIALS:

PROCEDURE:

 Note: You may want to draw a chart to record your data.

 1. Half fill a shiny can with room temperature water. Be sure that the outside of the can is dry when you begin.

 2. Record the temperature of the air and water.

 3. Leave the thermometer in the can. While carefully watching the outside of the can, gradually add ice, stirring with the stirring rod (DO NOT USE THE THERMOMETER TO STIR...IT MIGHT BREAK!). Beads of moisture will appear on the outside of the can giving it a frosted appearance. As soon as moisture appears on the outside of the can, read the thermometer and record. This temperature is the dew point for present conditions.

 4. Repeat the experiment two more times. Always start with room temperature water and a can that is dry on the outside. Record your results.

 5. Find the average of your results.

 

QUESTIONS:

1. Define dew point.

 

 2. Define condensation.

 

 3. What caused moisture to form on the outside of the can?

 

 4. Do you think the dew point will vary under different conditions? Explain.

 

 5. Did everyone in the room get the same dew point? Did you get the same in each of your 3 trials? Why would all the answers be the same? Why would they be different? Discuss.

 

EXTENSION: When would you expect dew to form in the Namib Desert?

 

Lesson 4

Interpreting the Photo

 PROBLEM: Animals and plants live in the Namib Desert where it rains only about every decade. There is no surface water in the desert. How do plants and animals survive without rainfall?

Use the photo and maps to work through this sheet to help you solve the problem.

 1. Use a map to locate the exact position of the photo. Identify the following:

 

2. Examine the photo and identify the following by labeling photograph. (use washable marker on laminated photo or clear plastic overlay)

  • surface water
  • fog
  • change in elevation
  • sand dunes
  • beach
  • surf
  • rocky formations
  • drainage patterns
  • clouds (over land)
  • evidence of erosion
  • surf

3. Using the map, " Major World Currents", identify the current along the Namib coast. Where does this current come from? Is it a warm or cold current?

Identify the current to the west of this current. Is it a warm or cold current?

 4. Fog - What kinds of conditions over the ocean are needed for evaporation?

In this photo, winds blow from west to east. What effects do the winds have on the fog? How does this relate to our problem of survival without rainfall?

 

5. What may have caused the drainage and erosion patterns in the photo?

 

 6. Is there any evidence of people living in this area? Why do people live or not live here? What are some ways that plants and animals could adapt to this environment?

 

 7. In summary, describe the effect the fog has on the ecosystem of the Namib Desert?

 

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