Out of the Mist

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Science  05 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6005, pp. 750-751
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6005.750

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On a sand dune on the outskirts of Lima, residents of a shantytown are attempting to grow a forest in one of the driest regions on Earth—Lima receives less than 1.5 centimeters of rain per year. Over the past couple of years, they have erected a series of 4-meter-high nets at the top of the dune to capture precious drops from the wet air. In as few as 4 years, the irrigated saplings will themselves trap the fog, creating a microclimate that should yield a self-sustaining runoff. Fog harvesting and other experiments, such as painting mountains, are how some Peruvians are trying to adapt to a heightening water crisis. Peru is losing its glaciers, a key source of water for the country, and the government is struggling to come up with solutions, particularly for Lima.

* Gaia Vince writes on environmental issues in the developing world at

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