Satellites reveal that green means rain in Africa

Sep 22, 2006

Scientists from the NERC – funded Climate and Land Surface Interactions Centre (CLASSIC) have found that the presence of green vegetation has a major influence on the amount of rain that falls in the Sahel region of Africa, south of the Sahara desert. Rains at the start of the growing season cause vegetation growth. This encourages a feedback loop as the greener the vegetation becomes, the greater the amount of rain that falls.

This Important new research could help us to predict future droughts in Africa. The research can be used to aid regional and international forecasts for rain-starved regions.

Using satellite technology, Dr Sietse Los and colleagues at CLASSIC worked with NASA to develop a dataset covering 18 years of vegetation greenness records. They combined these records with rainfall data in the region over the same period – from 1982 to1999. The resulting analyses show, for the first time, that rainfall amounts vary between 10% and 30% more when the land is green, and decreases by a similar amount when conditions are dry and there is little green vegetation growing.

Dr Los said, “ The role of vegetation in enhancing both wet and dry conditions in sub-Saharan Africa is important for understanding the causes of droughts, which often have dire consequences for the local population. Our research will help to improve current climate models and give better rainfall and vegetation growth predictions. And in turn this will help both climate scientists and local agricultural managers.”

Source: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Explore further: Quakes destroy or damage 83 houses in Philippines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Green wave' explains migratory bird routes

Sep 10, 2014

Migratory songbirds enjoy the best of both worlds—food-rich summers and balmy winters—but they pay for it with a tough commute. Their twice-a-year migrations span thousands of miles and are the most dangerous, physically ...

Campus showcases high-performance buildings

Jul 01, 2014

Researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are transforming the way the world uses energy—and those transformations become apparent the moment one sets foot on the NREL campus in ...

Recommended for you

Kiribati leader visits Arctic on climate mission

18 hours ago

Fearing that his Pacific island nation could be swallowed by a rising ocean, the president of Kiribati says a visit to the melting Arctic has helped him appreciate the scale of the threat.

NASA catches a weaker Edouard, headed toward Azores

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Atlantic Ocean and captured a picture of Tropical Storm Edouard as it continues to weaken. The National Hurricane Center expects Edouard to affect the western Azores ...

User comments : 0