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20 Feb 2012: NASA Photo Shows Shrinking
Lake In The Southern Sahara Desert

A new photo taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station shows the extent to which Lake Fitri, a terminal lake in the southern Sahara Desert in Chad, has diminished due to dry conditions.

Click to enlarge
NASA Lake Fitri Sahara

NASA
Lake Fitri
In the photo, which was taken in January, the muddy yellow-brown water is visible at the center of the basin, surrounded by a network of exposed mud, wetlands, and sand dunes. At the northern edge of the lake (which, in this rotated image, is located in the lower left), a ring of dark brown muds and burnt vegetation illustrates the exposed lake floor. The dry borders show that the lake was many times larger in years past, with the wind-shaped curves of ancient beaches now located several kilometers from the current shoreline. According to NASA, the lake, which formed as a terminus for rivers that never accumulated enough rainfall to reach the sea, is sensitive to the shifting equilibrium between inflow from rivers like the Wadi Batha (visible at the top of the image) and evaporation. The numerous beach ridges show the different levels the lake has reached in response to the shifting climate system.

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