Losing Lake Chad
March 07, 2001
Lake Chad in north central Africa has lost much of its water during the last several decades because of lack of rain and increased irrigation use. It joins the Aral Sea in central Asia as another pitiful example of what can happen to our water supply when controls on irrigation and land use are unbridled. The above Landsat image of Lake Chad is a composite of two images taken in November 2000 and February 2001. Landsat first imaged Lake Chad in 1973, when it was still one of the largest, fresh water inland lakes in Africa. Formerly as large as Lake Erie, Lake Chad has shrunk to 1/20 of its dimensions of 35 years ago! On the above true-color image, the dark blue crescent-shaped feature is Lake Chad, and the swath of green surrounding it is primarily irrigated farm land. Lake Chad previously included the darker greenish area to the upper left.