Reference : Desertification in the Sahel: climatic or human driven causes?
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Multidisciplinary, general & others
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
Desertification in the Sahel: climatic or human driven causes?
[fr] Désertification au Sahel: crise climatique ou anthropique?
Ozer, Pierre mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement >]
Ozer, André mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département de géographie > Géomorphologie et télédétection >]
7th International Conference on Geomorphology
6-11 July 2009
International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG)
[en] Desertification ; SAHEL ; Developing countries ; climate change ; drought ; human impacts
[fr] désertification ; SAHEL ; Pays en développement ; changement climatique ; sécheresse ; impacts anthropiques
[en] Over the last decades, the Sahel of West Africa has suffered two dramatic contiguous droughts.
Currently, and since the early 1990, rainfalls record an amelioration that tends towards the
average of precipitation previous to the 1970s. However, this improvement may be due to
increasing rainfall intensity and it seems that the length of the rainy season did not show any
extension when compared to the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, the Sahelian population
has been multiplied by 3 since 1950 and is foreseen to be multiplied by 10 by the second half of
the 21st century. Increasing urban population levels are much more impressive and conduct
important environmental distresses every day. Such increasing human pressure leads to
uncontrolled deforestation in order to satisfy the needs in fuel wood, wood for construction and
shifting cultivation. In addition, always larger herds for contracting range conditions lead to
overgrazing and trampling. All these processes provoke the degradation of the vegetation
cover, a constant diminution of crop yields, as well as a strong reduction of the biodiversity. One
of the numerous consequences is the reactivation of previously fixed dunes that were formed
during the last interpluvial phase (18000 BP). Our research provides a state of the art of recent
findings and controversy that surround the desertification processes and concludes that if the
droughts of the 1970s and 1980s have had dramatic consequences for the population of the
Sahel, current and coming increasing human pressure will very likely enhance desertification
processes of the southern fringe of the Sahara.
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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