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Dust Storm Near Lake Faguibine and Inner Niger Delta, Mali

16.7N 3.9W

May 19th, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes, Wetlands

Mali – May 19th, 2013

A dust storm in Mali blows a thick,  yellow cloud of sand towards Lake Faguibine (identifiable here as an elongated dark area near the top edge) and the Inner Niger Delta (center left).

Lake Faguibine is a lake in Mali on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert situated 80 km west of Timbuktu and 75 km north of the Niger River to which it is connected by a system of smaller lakes and channels. In years when the height of the annual flood of the river is sufficient, water flows from the river into the lake. Since the Sahel drought of the 1970s and 1980s the lake has been mostly dry. Water has only rarely reached the lake and even when it has done so, the lake has been only partially filled with water. This has caused a partial collapse of the local ecosystem.

The Inner Niger Delta, also known as the Macina, is a large area of lakes and floodplains in the semi-arid Sahel area of central Mali, just south of the Sahara desert. The Niger inland Delta lies in the Sahelian zone, and has an ecosystem that is largely dependent on the amount of flooding it receives. Due to its proximity to the widening Sahel, there have been concerns that the delta may be getting less rain every year. Here, the delta appears quite dry, blending in with the surrounding terrain rather than showing a great deal of green vegetation.

Thin Veil of Dust Over Aral Sea

46.7N 61.6E

April 5th, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes

Aral Sea – April 3rd, 2013

A thin veil of dust can be seen blowing across the Aral Sea Basin. The dust is easiest to spot over the bright turquoise waters of the southwestern basin. Dust storms are becoming more frequent in this area due to desertification and the shrinking of the sea due to riverwater diversion.

Dust Over Caspian Sea South of Volga Delta

39.4N 53.1E

April 4th, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes, Rivers

Caspian Sea – April 2nd, 2013

Plumes of dust blow northwestward off the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. One plume blows across the lower part of Karabogas Bay, while the other, slightly further south, blows across the peninsula on which the city of Hazar is located, in Turkmenistan. Visible in the northern part of the sea are sediments and phytoplankton growth near the fan-shaped Volga River Delta.

Plume of Dust Over Caspian Sea

39.4N 53.1E

April 3rd, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes

Caspian Sea – April 2nd, 2013

A plume of dust blows across the peninsula on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea on which the city of Hazar, Turkmenistan, is located. A thinner veil of dust can also be seen over the Caspian Sea, Karabogas Bay (north of the peninsula) and Sarygamysh Lake (upper right).

Desertification Leading to More Dust Storms in Aral Sea Region – March 24th, 2013

46.7N 61.6E

March 24th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Dust Storms, Image of the day, Lakes

Aral Sea – March 23rd, 2013

The region around the Aral Sea, whose water levels have dropped 23 meters since the onset of water diversion from its primary sources, has experienced significant desertification. The desertification is characterized by degradation of the land and natural resources to the point that they can no longer be used.

Several factors influence the desertification, including the decline in the groundwater level. By cutting off water supply to a region, the hydrological balance of the area becomes offset as more water leaves the region than is coming into the region.

Frequent low-water periods contributed to the shortfall of needed resources for vegetation. The decline in the groundwater level in the Amudarya and Syrdarya deltas contributed to the piling up of salt at the surface. This increase in salt content was later accompanied by a change in vegetative cover because the plants began to die away as a result of the increased salinity of the sea. As a result, vegetation in the region was reduced by at least 40%. Six million hectares of agricultural land were destroyed as a result of salinization and desertification (click here for more information).

A side effect of the decrease in the protective vegetation cover was intensified winds, which led to more dust storms in the area. Here, dust can be seen blowing across the southwestern basin of the lake and across the northern part of nearby Sarygamysh Lake.