Sunday, June 8, 2008

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Lake Chad

Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon
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Lake Chad, located at the junction of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon was once the sixth-largest lake in the world. Persistent droughts have shrunk it to about a tenth of its former size. The lake has a large drainage basin - 1.5 million km2 (0.6 million square miles) - but almost no water flows in from the dry north. Ninety per cent of lake's water flows in from the Chari River. The lakebed is flat and shallow; even before the drought, the lake was no more than 5-8 m (16-26 ft) deep. Considered a deep wetland, Lake Chad was once the second largest wetland in Africa, highly productive, and supporting a diversity of wildlife.

The lake is very responsive to changes in rainfall. When rains fail, the lake drops rapidly because annual inflow is 20-85 per cent of the lake's volume. Human diversion from the lake and from the Chari River may be significant at times of low flow, but rainfall is still the determining factor in lake level.

This image set displays a continued decline in lake surface area from 22 902 km2 (8 843 square miles) in 1963 to a meager 304 km2 (117 square miles) in 2001.
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