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Review of Environment and Earth Sciences

June 2018, Volume 5, 2, pp 15-41

Did Global Warming and Climate Change Cause the Degradation of Lake Chad, Africa's Most Important 'Ecological Catastrophe'?

Enwere Dike


Ngozi Dike

Enwere Dike 1

Ngozi Dike 2

  1. Department of Economics Kogi State University Anyigba, Nigeria 1

  2. Department of Biology Federal College of Education Zaria, Nigeria 2

on Google Scholar
on PubMed

Pages: 15-41

DOI: 10.18488/journal.80.2018.52.15.41

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Article History:

Received: 27 June, 2018
Revised: 02 August, 2018
Accepted: 07 August, 2018
Published: 22 October, 2018


This paper explores six hypotheses/theories on Lake Chad’s degradation: i) natural climate variation; ii) anthropogenic climate change compounded the effects of the Sahel drought; iii) unregulated exploitation of Lake Chad’s hydrologic system overdrew the regenerative potential of the lake system; iv) high rates of deforestation in the tropical rain forest belt of West-Central Africa shifted the rain belt Southwards; v) pressure from rapidly expanding human and livestock populations exceeded the carrying potential of the Lake Chad ecosystem; and vi) anthropogenic aerosol emissions in the northern hemisphere shifted the tropical rain-belt southwards. The evidence shows that there is no single-cause explanation for Lake Chad’s degradation; rather the influence of global warming and climate change compounded those from pre-existing drought conditions and non-climate factors e.g unregulated exploitation of Lake Chad’s hydrologic system to degrade the lake.
Contribution/ Originality
The paper contributes to the existing literature by exploring six hypotheses/theories to show that the influence of global warming and climate change on ecosystems can be compounded by non-climate variables. The degradation of Lake Chad illustrates vividly the interaction between the climate factors and non-factors in eco-system degradation.


Lake chad, Global warming, Climate change, Sahel, Chad basin, Drought.



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This research is not funded by any external body.

Competing Interests:

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


Both authors contributed equally to the conception and design of the study.

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