Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Desertification in the Sahel Region: A Product of Climate Change or Human Activities? A Case of Desert Encroachment Monitoring in North-Eastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing Techniques

Version 1 : Received: 31 December 2021 / Approved: 10 January 2022 / Online: 10 January 2022 (12:26:22 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Ibrahim, E.S.; Ahmed, B.; Arodudu, O.T.; Abubakar, J.B.; Dang, B.A.; Mahmoud, M.I.; Shaba, H.A.; Shamaki, S.B. Desertification in the Sahel Region: A Product of Climate Change or Human Activities? A Case of Desert Encroachment Monitoring in North-Eastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing Techniques. Geographies 2022, 2, 204-226. Ibrahim, E.S.; Ahmed, B.; Arodudu, O.T.; Abubakar, J.B.; Dang, B.A.; Mahmoud, M.I.; Shaba, H.A.; Shamaki, S.B. Desertification in the Sahel Region: A Product of Climate Change or Human Activities? A Case of Desert Encroachment Monitoring in North-Eastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing Techniques. Geographies 2022, 2, 204-226.

Journal reference: Geographies 2022, 2, 15
DOI: 10.3390/geographies2020015

Abstract

In Nigeria, desertification has become one of the most pronounced ecological disasters, with the impacts mostly affecting eleven frontline States. This has been attributed to a range of both nat-ural and man-made factors. This study applied a remote sensing-based change detection and indicator analysis to explore land use/land cover changes and detect major conversions from ecologically active land covers to sand dunes. Results indicate that areas covered by sand dunes (a major indicator of desertification) have doubled over the 25 years under consideration (1990 to 2015). Although about 0.71 km2 of dunes have been converted to vegetation, indicative of the success of various international, national, local, and individual afforestation efforts, conversely about 10.1 km2 of vegetation were converted to sand dunes, implying around 14 times more de-forestation compared to afforestation. Juxtaposing the progression of sand dune with climate records of the study area and examining the relationship between indicators of climate change and desertification suggested a mismatch between both processes as increasing rainfall and lower temperatures observed in 1994, 2005, 2012, and 2014 did not translated into positive feedbacks for desertification in the study area. On average, our results reveal that sand dune is progressing at a mean annual rate of about 15.2 km2 in the study area. Based on this study’s land cover change, trend and conversion assessment, visual reconciliation of climate records with land cover data, statistical analysis, observations from ground-truthing, as well as previous literature, it can be inferred that desertification in Nigeria is less a function of climate change, but more a product of human activities driven by poverty, population growth and failed government policies. Further projections by this study also reveal a high probability of more farmlands being converted to sand dunes by the year 2030 and 2045 if current practices prevail.

Keywords

Climate change; Land cover; Land use; Conversion; Sand dunes; Environment; Degradation; Poverty.

Subject

EARTH SCIENCES, Environmental Sciences

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