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Posts tagged Kalahari Desert

Climate Change Affecting Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana

19.7S 22.8E

March 29th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers, Salt Flats

Botswana – March 29th, 2013

The Okavango Delta (upper left quadrant) is a large inland delta in Botswana, produced by seasonal flooding where the Okavango River spills into a trough in the endorheic basin of the Kalahari Desert. Summer rainfall (in January and February) in Angola’s highlands drains southward through the Okavango River. This water then gradually spreads over the delta from March to August, peaking in the last three months, in which the delta swells to a large, swampy marsh of three times its permanent size. This image was taken in late March, approximately one month in to the flooding period.

The delta is important to Botswana for several reasons, including being a home to many plant and animal species, revenue generated through tourism, and use by local communities for water, fishing and agriculture. However, climate change is affecting the delta through declining precipitation and increasing temperatures, causing flood patterns and water channel distribution to shift. Reduced inflow could result in swamps drying out and forests being replaced by grasslands, causing local animal species to migrate or become extinct.

Also visible here, near the right edge, is the bright white Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan in the middle of the dry savanna of northeastern Botswana. One of the largest salt flats in the world, it is all that remains of the huge, ancient Lake Makgadikgadi. For much of the year, most of the area remains waterless and extremely arid; however, it floods during periods of good rain, attracting wildlife. As it is linked to Okavango Delta by the Boteti River, reduced inflow in the delta region can also affect the ecosystem of the pan.

Future of Okavango Delta, Botswana

19.7S 22.8E

February 12th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers, Wetlands

Botswana – January 26th, 2013

The Okavango Delta (upper left quadrant), in Botswana, is a large inland delta, formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari Desert. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water spread over the 6,000-15,000 km² area.

Scientific studies have suggested that the river flow could decrease by over 26% by the turn of the next century, due to climate change, particularly changing precipitation patterns in Angola. Changing precipitation patterns will result in changing flood patterns, which would devastate an ecosystem built around predictable winter floods. Furthermore, an increased evaporation rate in the Kalahari will reduce total surface area that the flood can reach and accelerate its disappearance (click here to read more).

Lakes, Rivers, Deltas and Floodplains Around Caprivi Strip, Africa – May 8th, 2012

18S 21.9E

May 8th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers, Salt Flats

Botswana - April 28th, 2012

Many bodies of water, different in size and hydrology, can be observed in this image of Angola (upper left), Zambia (upper right), Botswana (lower left) and Zimbabwe (lower right).

Visible by the right edge is the dark blue Lake Kariba, located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is the world’s largest artificial reservoir by volume. Southwest of the lake is the Makgadikgadi Pan, in Botswana, the world’s largest salt flat complex.

In the center of the image is the Caprivi Strip, a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards about 450 km (280 mi), between Botswana to the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Okavango Region to the west. Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi Rivers.

To the west is the Okavango Delta, formed where the Okavango River empties onto the Kalahari Desert. To the north is the Barotse Floodplain, which begins by the Zambezi River’s confluence with the Kabompo and Lungwebungu Rivers in the north. The region is a flat plateau at an elevation of about 1000 m tilting very slightly to the south.

Smoke Over Botswana and South Africa

20.6S 25.3E

April 20th, 2012 Category: Fires, Rivers, Salt Flats

Botswana and South Africa - April 15th, 2012

Smoke can be seen near the border between South Africa and Botswana in the lower right quadrant of this image of central southern Africa. The white area visible north of the cloud of smoke is the Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan in northern Botswana, and the largest salt flat complex in the world. These salt pans cover approximately 16,000 km2 and form the bed of the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi that began evaporating millennia ago.

Also visible northwest of the pan is the Okavango Delta (or Okavango Swamp), in Botswana, is the world’s largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River empties onto a swamp in an endorheic basin in the Kalahari Desert, where most of the water is lost to evaporation and transpiration instead of draining into the sea.

Okavango Delta and Lake Ngami, Botswana – January 22nd, 2012

20.4S 22.7E

January 22nd, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers, Wetlands

Botswana - January 6th, 2012

The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Swamp), in Botswana, is the world’s largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River empties onto a swamp in an endorheic basin in the Kalahari Desert, where most of the water is lost to evaporation and transpiration instead of draining into the sea. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water irrigate the 15,000 km² area.

The Okavango Delta is produced by seasonal flooding. The Okavango river drains the summer (January–February) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 1,200 kilometres in approximately one month. The waters then spread over the 250 km by 150 km area of the delta over the next four months (March–June). The flood peaks between June and August, during Botswana’s dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size. Some flood-waters drain into Lake Ngami, which is visible here at the center of the bottom edge.

Lake Ngami is an endorheic lake in Botswana north of the Kalahari Desert. It is seasonally filled by the Taughe River, an affluent of the Okavango River system flowing out of the western side of the Okavango Delta. It is one of the fragmented remnants of the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi. Although the lake has shrunk dramatically beginning from 1890, it remains an important habitat for birds and wildlife, especially in flood years.

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