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Etosha Pan, Namibia, and Fires in Angola

17.2S 14.0E

June 6th, 2013 Category: Salt Flats VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Namibia – June 4th, 2013

Visible in the lower part of this image, in northern Namibia, is the Etosha Pan. Once a lake, the pan gradually dried up through evaporation 2 to 10 million years ago when climatic changes and topographic movements caused the Kunene river to change its course, and to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Now, the Etosha Pan is a stark, seemingly endless depression of pale greenish-white clay, silt and mineral salts, all baking under the fierce sun. Visible to the north, in Angola, are what appear to be two plumes of smoke from fires.

In living history, the Etosha Pan has never been filled with water, although in years of good rainfall, several tributaries of the Kunene river, such as the Oshigambo and the Ekuma in northwest and the Omuramba Ovambo in the east, drain into it, causing partial flooding and attracting thousands of flamingoes and other wading birds. The water, though, can be as much as two times saltier than sea water is, and therefore generally unfit for animal consumption.

Plant Growth on the Etosha Pan, Namibia – June 9th, 2011

18.7S 16.4E

June 9th, 2011 Category: Image of the day, Salt Flats

Namibia - May 23rd, 2011

The Etosha National Park covers an area of 22 270 square km in Namibia. It is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, perhaps surprisingly, one species of fish.


Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park.

The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. Here, the green swirls around the edges of the pan indicate the presence of water and algae.

This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.


Cunene River Crossing Namib Desert Between Angola and Namibia – May 3rd, 2011

16.5S 11.7E

May 3rd, 2011 Category: Deserts, Image of the day, Rivers

Namibia and Angola - April 15th, 2011

The Namib Desert is a desert in Namibia and southwest Angola. This image focuses on the northern part of the desert, stretching across the border between those two countries.

The border is marked by the Cunene River (Angolan spelling) or Kunene River (Namibian spelling), which flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia and then west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Some greenish sediments can be seen entering the ocean near its mouth.

Moving up the coast from the rivermouth, one comes to Baia dos Tigres, the largest island of Angola (despite its name, which means “Bay of Tigres”). Its area is 98 kmĀ².

Iona National Park, Angola

April 20th, 2009 Category: Rivers, Snapshots

Angola - April 13th, 2009

Angola - April 13th, 2009

Iona National Park (Parque Nacional do Iona in Portuguese) is a National park in Namibe Province of Angola. It is about 200 km from the city of Namibe (top left) and, at 5850 sq. miles, the largest in the country.

Before the Angolan Civil War, Iona was an “animal paradise, rich in big game”. However, as is true for most Angolan national parks, illegal poaching and the destruction of infrastructure have caused considerable damage to the once rich park.

The park is also known for unique flora and incredible rock formations. Many rippled rows of sand dunes can also be seen near the coast.

The Cunene River (lower left quadrant, also spelled Kunene) marks the southern border of the park, as well as the border between Angola and Namibia. It is one of the few perennial rivers in the region. Here, it is spilling some greenish sediments into the Atlantic Ocean, which are flowing northward up the coast.

Heavy Flooding Along Namibia-Angola Border

March 16th, 2009 Category: Floods

Flooding along Namibia-Angola border - March 13th, 2009

Flooding along Namibia-Angola border - March 13th, 2009

Heavy rains have caused the Kunene River to flood on both sides of the Namibia-Angola border, which runs approximately through the center of the image.

The Kunene River flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia. It then flows west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

Six regions in northern Namibia (lower half of image) have been flooded. The Angolan Red Cross announced that around 25,000 people have lost their homes in southern Angola’s Cunene Province, and that about 125,000 total have been affected in that area.

The floods washed away not only homes, but also livestock, and roads and fields are covered by flood waters. Fears of cholera and malaria epidemics are also present.

The region is normally inundated every year during the rainy season, from December to April. However, more rain has fallen this year from December to mid-March than during the entire rainy season last year. More heavy downpours are expected over the next few days.

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