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Desertification by Shrinking Lake Chad

13.3N 14.1E

February 1st, 2012 Category: Deserts, Lakes

Niger - December 29th, 2012

Lake Chad is located in the Sahel, a vast savanna bordered by the rain forests of the west coast of Africa on one side and the Sahara desert to the north. Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon are neighboring countries. Once one of Africa’s largest freshwater lakes, it has shrunk dramatically in the last 40 years. In 1963, the lake covered about 9,700 square miles (25,000 square kilometers); in 2001, it was only one-twentieth of that size.

Researchers have concluded that human activities are to blame for the shrinking of the lake. Historically, Lake Chad received most of its water from the monsoon rains that fell annually from June to August. But beginning in the late 1960s, the region experienced a series of devastating droughts. As the rains increasingly failed to come, the region began undergoing desertification. At the same time, local people became more and more dependent on the lake as a source of water to replace the water they had previously obtained from the monsoons. Also, overgrazing of the savanna is one of the biggest factors in the shrinking of the lake.

 

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