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Desertification and Vanishing Lake Chad

12.8N 14.0E

June 19th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISTerra

Chad – June 19th, 2013

As you approach the Lake Chad basin the air is dusty, the wind is fierce and unrelenting, the plants are wilting and the earth is turning into sand dunes. The sparse vegetation is occasionally broken by withered trees and shrubs. The lives of herders, fisherfolk and farmers are teetering on the edge as the lake dries up before their eyes.

Vegetation and water, the traditional staples of livelihood for the Lake Chad community dwellers, are vanishing. Vultures feast on dead cows as drought and desertification take their toll. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called the situation an “ecological catastrophe,” predicting that the lake could disappear this century.

The Lake Chad basin is one of the most important agricultural heritage sites in the world, providing a lifeline to nearly 30 million people in four countries — Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Lake Chad is located in the far west of Chad and the northeast of Nigeria. Parts of the lake also extend to Niger and Cameroon. It is fed mainly by the Chari River through the Lagone tributary, which used to provide 90 per cent of its water. It was once Africa’s largest water reservoir in the Sahel region, covering an area of about 26,000 square kilometres; however, by 2001 the lake covered less than one-fifth of that area (click here for more information).

Dust Storm Covering Lake Chad

12.8N 14.0E

May 10th, 2013 Category: Dust Storms

Chad – May 9th, 2013

A dust storm continues to blow across the border between Chad, Nigeria and Niger, visible here crossing the center of the image. The dust blocks most of Lake Chad (lower right quadrant), shared by the aforementioned three countries and Cameroon, from view.

Desertification’s Effects on Lake Chad

12.8N 14.0E

April 29th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Dust Storms

Chad – April 29th, 2013

Some dust can be seen over the northern lobe of Lake Chad and blowing about the arid terrain north of the lake. Lake Chad is an example of desertification, the process by which land turns desert-like. During the 1960s, Lake Chad was 38,000 square kilometres of sparkling blue-green water that nourished humans, animals and plant life in the four countries it straddles: Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.

However, Lake Chad is now a speck of what it was five decades ago, measuring just 1,300 square kilometres. The Sahara desert is the culprit. It is stealthily moving southward, expanding at the rate of about 48 square kilometres every year, according to some reports. Desertification is a growing problem in Africa and other parts of the world, and will cause more conflict and food insecurity as climate change spurs it on.

Dust Over Chad and Central African Republic

12.8N 14.0E

March 20th, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes

Chad – March 19th, 2013

A cloud of dust hangs over southern Chad (center right) and the Central African Republic (lower right), southeast of Lake Chad (upper left quadrant). A hazy area can also be seen to the south of the lake, in Nigeria and Cameroon. This haze may also be caused by dust, or smoke from agricultural fires, or a combination of both.

Benue River and Dust by Nigeria-Cameroon Border

7.8N 6.7E

January 1st, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Rivers

Nigeria and Cameroon – December 25th, 2012

Dust from the Sahara Desert can be seen in the air near the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Visible crossing the image from the center to the left edge is the Benue River, the major tributary of the Niger River, which is visible parallel to the left edge.

The Benue is approximately 1,400 km long. It rises in the Adamawa Plateau of northern Cameroon, from where it flows west, and through the town of Garoua and Lagdo Reservoir, into Nigeria south of the Mandara mountains, and through Jimeta, Ibi and Makurdi before meeting the Niger at Lokoja. At the point of confluence the Benue exceeds the Niger by volume (mean discharge before 1960: 3400 m³/s vs. 2500 m³/s).