Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Horn of Africa drought seen from space

Drought in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti is pushing tens of thousands of people from their homes as millions face food insecurity in a crisis visible from space. ESA’s SMOS satellite shows that the region’s soil is too dry to grow crops.

Somalis, who already face war in their country, have been fleeing to neighbouring countries in search of refuge. In Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, for example, over 1000 people – mostly children – arrive daily, severely dehydrated and malnourished.

While international aid agencies call this the ‘worst drought in decades,’ space technology has mapped the crisis over a shorter time period.

ESA's SMOS soil moisture and ocean salinity satellite shows that Somalia’s soil appears dry during the 2011 main rainy season, particularly in the southern agricultural region.

Somalia has an arid climate in the northeast and central regions, while the northwest and south receive at least reasonable amounts of rain in a normal year.

Although the country’s proximity to the equator means there is not much seasonal variation in climate, the April to June rains are important for agriculture. (more)