The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places on Earth. Its dwindling reservoirs and falling water tables are forcing local communities to ration water. But the area does have heavy coastal fog that is captured by nearby thirsty forests. Now researchers are bio-mimicking this process with fog-catching nets to solve the water shortage.
Huge polypropylene nets are strung tightly between poles and placed over gutters that lead to plastic drums. As tiny droplets condense on the mesh, the water pools into the troughs to be stored for drinking and crop irrigation.
Consistent innovations in materials are improving fog yields and reducing the size of the equipment needed, allowing easier, small-scale solutions such as portable, fog-collecting water bottles.
Built like large wind farms, these fog farms are capable of producing enough water to sustain life and even make the desert bloom, all without requiring any man-made energy.
Fog farming might also combat climate change by harnessing weather in a way that helps the environment through encouraging forest growth and renewing soils — both of which consume carbon dioxide.
This simple solution could turn the driest deserts on earth into lush farmland where gardens can grow.
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