From the ABC 7 Weather team

The Horn of Africa: A legacy of drought, seen from space (MAP)

July 28, 2011 - 12:23 PM
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The people of eastern Africa have spent half of the last three decades weathering extreme drought conditions. Here's a bird's-eye view of what that looks like.

Some parts of eastern Africa have been under extreme drought conditions for 15 years.

Yesterday I talked about the intense drought in the Horn of Africa that's enabling the spread of famine and in general making life increasingly unbearable for east Africans. We in America are lucky to come across a news story a week about the enduring misery of eastern Africa, but it's something our government has kept a steady eye on.

Ever since the NOAA-7 satellite launched in 1981, world scientists have monitored soil moisture and plant growth and death in Africa. The continuous measuring has allowed for the construction of a map-in-time of the region's hardship. In the past three decades, as you can see in the above image, the Horn of Africa has suffered "extreme" drought (the second-worst form) for about 15 years. The darkest areas represent zones of greatest aridity, and Kenya, northern Somalia and Djibouti all seem particularly prone to hellish climate patterns.

With the current weather outlook, there's not much relief on the horizon, a dismal fact that NOAA calls "another reason for great concern." (Hi-res map here.)

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