Showing posts from December 10, 2006

Satellites Weigh Africa's Water

Satellites Weigh Africa's Water

By Jonathan Amos Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Photo above:
The Grace twins weigh the changes in the storage of water on land.

Africa has experienced a significant drying in the past three years, new satellite data reveals.
The volume of water lost from the land amounts to 334 cubic km, which is almost as much as all Africans have consumed over the period.

The data comes from Nasa spacecraft that can detect changes in gravity caused by water as it cycles between the sea, the atmosphere and the land.

Experts stress no firm conclusions should be drawn from the short study. Professor Jay Famiglietti from the University of California-Irvine said much longer times series were needed to detect real trends and any signal that might indicate a significant shift in climate. "There are natural climate variations, the natural ups and downs," he explained.

"Another big factor is human control of the water cycle - reservoir management, the sto…

Water Levels In Lake Victoria Dropping Fast

Water Levels In African Lake Dropping fast


By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
Sat Dec 9, 1:12 PM ET

JINJA, Uganda - At Jinja pier the rusty red hull of a Lake Victoria freighter sat barely afloat in water just six feet deep — and dropping. "The scientists have to explain this," said ship's engineer Gabriel Maziku.

Across the bay, at a fish packing plant, fishermen had to wade ashore with their Nile perch in flat-bottomed boats, and heave the silvery catch up to a jetty that soon may be on dry land and out of reach entirely. Looking on, plant manager Ravee Ramanujam wondered about what's to come.

"Such a large body of water, dropping so fast," he said.

At 27,000 square miles, the size of Ireland, Victoria is the greatest of Africa's Great Lakes — the biggest freshwater body after Lake Superior. And it has dropped fast, at least six feet in the past three years, and by as much as a half-inch a day this year before November rains stabilized t…