Frozen sand dunes created by climate change
Abu Dhabi's fossil dunes rise up out of the surrounding desert like frozen waves in a violent ocean made of solid sand, their sides rippling with shapes defined by raging winds.
'Complex story'The fossil dunes were formed over thousands of years.
The dunes are a stone's throw away from a Wetland Reserve, Abu Dhabi's first protected area.
Steuber says that generations of dunes were created by cycles of ice ages and thaws that occurred between 200,000 and 7,000 years ago.
Ocean levels dropped when frozen water increased at the polar caps and during these drier periods, dunes would've built up as sand blew in from the drained Arabian Gulf.
Barry Neild/CNN"The Arabian Gulf is a small basin that's very shallow," says Steuber.
That meant the Gulf was dry and was the source of material for the fossil dunes."
Steuber says that the fossil dunes, which occur throughout the UAE and can also be found in India, Saudi Arabia and the Bahamas, likely took thousands of years to form.
But, despite the official protection now offered in Abu Dhabi, the erosion that gave each its unique shape will also eventually lead to their demise.
Rather than spoil the scene, this engineering spectacle adds a dramatic modern dimension to a landscape otherwise frozen in time.
Department of Culture and Tourism -- Abu Dhabi"The dunes look really amazing," said Dean Davis, visiting the site during a day off from work in Abu Dhabi city.
"Possibly, this was the flooding of the Arabian Gulf at the end of the ice ages, because the sea level rise was very rapid.