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Additional Middle Eastern and African Research Projects

Restoring Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, is so immense that it influences regional climate. But pollution and the introduction of predatory species have changed the character of the lake, decimating the local fishing industry and leaving millions of people without a vital source of nutrition.

lake victoria

Pollution and the introduction of non-native species are taking a toll on Africa's Lake Victoria. (Photo courtesy Barny Trevelyan-Johnson.)

NCAR scientist Michael Glantz, who specializes in the societal impacts of natural events, has worked with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to list the Lake Victoria Basin among the world’s important ecological and social hotspots. He is providing support to scientists in the countries bordering the lake who are working on a restoration program.

Glantz believes researchers need to increase scientific understanding of Lake Victoria’s ecosystem and its impact on both human population and climate. The goal is to restore the lake as much as possible and to ensure that future activities do not deplete its important resources.

The Future of Africa’s Climate


Rainfall in Africa may be affected by such phenomena as changes in atmospheric pressure thousands of miles away. (Photo by Lee Klinger, UCAR Digital Image Library.)

As parts of Africa remain dangerously vulnerable to drought and famine, scientists are beginning to investigate the role of the Atlantic Ocean on the continent’s climate. NCAR’s James Hurrell is working on a research project with the University of Cape Town in South Africa and other institutions to study both the impact of the ocean and how industrial output may change Africa’s future climate.

The research focuses on several Atlantic phenomena that have implications for climate hundreds or thousands of miles away. These include the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is a seesaw in atmospheric pressure that influences weather across several continents, and tropical Atlantic variability, which alters sea surface temperatures. Such events affect freshwater and saltwater circulation in the ocean, exchanges of heat and energy between the surface of the ocean and the lower part of the atmosphere, and winds over the ocean. All these factors play a role in rainstorms and other weather events over Africa.

“The Atlantic basin is filled with many different and interesting phenomena,” Hurrell explains. “What we’re trying to do is see how the whole system works.”

The scientists are especially concerned about the impacts of industrial output on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Studies indicate that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are warming surface waters, potentially causing the oscillation to remain stuck in a phase that could limit precipitation over Africa.

Middle Eastern and African Collaborations

Increasing Rain in the Desert

Improving Africa’s Forecasts

Restoring Lake Victoria

The Future of Africa’s Climate

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