Disclaimer: This material is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information, and parts may not function in current web browsers. Visit https://espo.nasa.gov for information about our current projects.


Biomass Burning and Water Balance Dynamics in the Lake Chad Basin in Africa

Black, F. W., J. Lee, C. Ichoku, L. Ellison, C. Gatebe, R. Babamaaji, K. Abdollahi, San, and S. B. Burning (2021), Biomass Burning and Water Balance Dynamics in the Lake Chad Basin in Africa, Earth, 2, 340-356, doi:10.3390/earth2020020.

The present study investigated the effect of biomass burning on the water cycle using a case study of the Chari–Logone Catchment of the Lake Chad Basin (LCB). The Chari–Logone catchment was selected because it supplies over 90% of the water input to the lake, which is the largest basin in central Africa. Two water balance simulations, one considering burning and one without, were compared from the years 2003 to 2011. For a more comprehensive assessment of the effects of burning, albedo change, which has been shown to have a significant impact on a number of environmental factors, was used as a model input for calculating potential evapotranspiration (ET). Analysis of the burning scenario showed that burning grassland, which comprises almost 75% of the total Chari–Logone land cover, causes increased ET and runoff during the dry season (November– March). Recent studies have demonstrated that there is an increasing trend in the LCB of converting shrubland, grassland, and wetlands to cropland. This change from grassland to cropland has the potential to decrease the amount of water available to water bodies during the winter. All vegetative classes in a burning scenario showed a decrease in ET during the wet season. Although a decrease in annual precipitation in global circulation processes such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation would cause droughts and induce wildfires in the Sahel, the present study shows that a decrease in ET by the human-induced burning would cause a severe decrease in precipitation as well.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Terrestrial Hydrology Program (THP)
Interdisciplinary Science Program (IDS)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)