Botswana – September 1st, 2008
At 600,370 km², Botswana is the world’s 45th-largest country (after Ukraine). It is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the state of Texas in the Southern United States.
Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of the land surface of the country.
August is near the height of the dry season in this area. The fire may be natural or caused by accidental or deliberate human activity.
In this image from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on ESA’s Envisat satellite, actively burning areas were detected by the sensor.
The large version of the image shows a wider area, including the lush vegetation of the Okavagno Delta to the north, and the bright, salt-laden soils of the Makgadikgadi Pans to the east.
Fire in the Kalahari
A huge bushfire was burning in the Kalahari in western Botswana on August 29, 2008. The fire is near the western boundary of (and perhaps inside) Botswana’s largest national park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The area is in the Ghanzi district, Botswana’s least populated administrative district. The small city of Ghanzi, the district capital, is about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the northwest perimeter of the blaze.
The burned area is dark brown compared to the tan colors of the surrounding landscape, which is savanna in the reserve itself and transitions to the Kalahari Desert toward the southwest.
This photograph shows the salt ponds of one of Africa’s major producers of soda ash (sodium carbonate) and salt.
Soda ash is used for in making glass, in metallurgy, in the detergent industry and in chemical manufacture. The image shows a small part of the great salt flats of central Botswana known as the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
Currently, the soda ash and salt are mainly exported to countries in southern and central Africa. Salt water from just beneath the pan floor is evaporated to produce the soda ash and salt (a process for which the semiarid climate of Botswana is ideal). Red, salt-loving algae in the ponds indicate that the salinity of the evaporating water is medium to high.
The Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, is in the northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan lies in the north.