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(in Indian—desert area), a desert in northern Chile, on the western slopes of the Andes. It is about 1,000 km long and includes the coastal cordillera—with elevations of up to 3,200 m—the longitudinal valley, and the western slopes of the Cordillera de Domeyko—with elevations to 4,325 m. Atacama belongs to the category of so-called coastal deserts, which form under the influence of the outlying eastern area of subtropical anticyclones. Its climate is a tropical trade-wind climate and is relatively cool because of the effects of the cold Peruvian current. On the coast the average January temperature is about 20°C, and the average July temperature is about 13° C. Precipitation, which does not occur every year, averages less than 50 mm per year. The spring and winter relative humidity on the coast reaches 82 percent; cloudiness reaches 85 percent. At elevations of up to 600 m, fog (camanchaca) and light drizzle (garua) are typical. Occasional water currents from the Andes dry up or are channeled off for irrigation; only the Loa River reaches the ocean.

The surface of the Atacama is primarily covered with moving sands, detritus, and saline soils. The coastal strip becomes covered with loma-type temporary vegetation during periods of fog. On coastal cliffs and islets there are seashore bird colonies and deposits of guano. On the eastern foot of the coastal cordillera there are unique deposits of sodium and potassium nitrates, borax, iodine, and common salt. The largest deposits of copper in the capitalist world— Chuquicamata, El Salvador, and others—are located on the western slopes of the Andes.


References in periodicals archive ?
When Schulze-Makuch and his collaborators went to the Atacama for the first time in 2015 to study how organisms survive in the soil of Earth's driest environment, the craziest of things happened.
Scientists returned to the Atacama in 2016 and 2017 for follow-up visits and discovered that the same microbial communities in the soil were gradually reverting to their dormant state.
The Purickuta Project consist of 160 hectares and is one of a few "exploitation concessions" granted within the Salar de Atacama, home to approximately 37% of the worlds Lithium production.
We're not exactly expecting to find skeletons of humanoid species on Mars during our search for aliens there, but there's a chance of finding fossils of living creatures like microorganisms that have things in common with those in the Atacama Desert.
Having both subsurface reach and surface mobility should greatly increase the number of biomarker and life-target sites we can sample in the Atacama," Glass added.
El desierto de Atacama se extiende entre el rio Loa (21[grados]) y Copiapo (27[grados]).
Stage 5, last day of the race, will take place between Huasco and La Serena-Coquimbo with a total of 249 km out of which 103 will be timed and will define the winners of the Atacama Rally 2015.
En publicaciones anteriores (Sanhueza 2001, 2008) abordamos preliminarmente este tema en relacion con comunidades indigenas de la puna de Atacama, enfocandolo por una parte, desde las adscripciones o pertenencias sociopoliticas que los dispositivos estatales (coloniales y republicanos) les adjudicaron, y por otra, desde los procesos y practicas sociales de produccion de identidades que surgieron desde la propia experiencia de estas colectividades historicas.
The helicopter went missing on Tuesday while helping in the aftermath of a flood that badly affected the regions of Atacama, Antofagasta and Coquimbo.
By using available global datasets, a semiempirical model for the surface solar radiation over northern Chile, and a network of surface stations, we confirm Atacama as the place where the highest mean surface solar radiation is found.
A New Year's Eve dinner will be followed by stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama, a small Spanish-style oasis town on the Altiplano of Chile.
Residents of San Pedro de Atacama say the weekend snow was the heaviest in three decades for the desert city, which is 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) north of the capital, Santiago.