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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Fairy Circles (1 of 2)

Caption: This is an aerial view of the mysterious fairy circles of Namibia. The enigmatic, bare patches within the grassland occur in millions at the transition to the Namib Desert. This picture was taken in the Marienfluss Valley, close to one of the study areas for which the scientists have undertaken extensive aerial image analyses. The authors of the study have, for the first time ever, investigated the spatial patterns of the fairy circles in detail. Typical for these patterns are the regularly spaced distances in-between circles at small neighborhood scale while homogeneously spread distribution prevails at large scale level. The scientists conclude from these results to have found strong support for the theory of self-organization, with the remarkable circle patterns emerging as a result of plant competition for water.

Credit: Photo: Stephan Getzin/UFZ

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