Satellite data measures Nile water for region security

Jul 22, 2014 by Carys Garland
Credit: Map by Britannica Online for Kids.

War and other social and economic problems could be prevented in north-eastern Africa now that the total water storage of the Nile Basin can be measured, according to a WA professor.

Curtin University Department of Spatial Sciences' Joseph Awange says being able to measure the total of the Nile Basin is significant for the that drain water from it because they may be in jeopardy of dishonouring the Nile Waters Agreement.

"If you look at it from water decision issues, the Nile is really a significant water body in the and Egypt has threatened to go to war several times in case the upper countries overuse the water," Associate Professor Awange says.

"When I say upper countries I mean countries where the Nile begins like Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia."

A/Prof Awange says countries draining water from the Nile can now make better informed decisions about how much water to take and what to use it for.

"If war was to erupt in the region, certainly it would be because of the Nile water resources," he says.

A/Prof Awange and other researchers collected between the years 2002 and 2011.

The Nile River is the longest river in the world, flowing through north-eastern Africa for about 6,650km. Credit: W

The group used data from the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission, which detects spatio-temporal variations of the earth's gravity field.

However, use of this satellite data to determine the total storage (TWS) of the Nile is difficult because stronger signals over the Lake Victoria Basin and the Red Sea obscure those from smaller sub-basins.

To overcome this problem, the study used an advanced mathematical technique called Independent Component Analysis to extract independent TWS patterns in sub-basins from GRACE and the Global Land Data Assimilation System.

A/Prof Awange says it is physically impossible to measure TWS of the entire basin with conventional measurement techniques.

He says the study also has economic implications because many of the fish eaten in Europe—like Nile Perch—come from the Lake Victoria region of the Nile.

He hopes more studies of similar nature will be carried out in the region, allowing for further understanding about the effects of climate change on the Nile Basin.

"The longer period of data we have, the more it will enable us to look at climatological analysis in the region," he says.

A/Prof Awange says an improved version of GRACE will be released in 2017 and will bring more precise data measures.

Explore further: Start mosquito protection methods now, says veterinarian

Related Stories

Egypt says Ethiopia dam mustn't reduce Nile's flow

Jun 03, 2013

President Mohamed Morsi Monday warned that Egypt would not allow its share of the Nile to be diminished by "one drop" after Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile as part of a giant dam project.

Egypt, Ethiopia in further talks over Nile dam

Jun 18, 2013

Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to hold further talks on the impact of an Ethiopian dam to quell tensions between the two countries, the foreign ministers of both nations said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Drought damage leads to widespread forest death

20 hours ago

The 2000-2003 drought in the American southwest triggered a widespread die-off of forests around the region. A Carnegie-led team of scientists developed a new modeling tool to explain how and where trembling ...

Good luck and the Chinese reverse global forest loss

20 hours ago

Analysis of 20 years of satellite data has revealed the total amount of vegetation globally has increased by almost 4 billion tonnes of carbon since 2003. This is despite ongoing large-scale deforestation ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.