Dry-season winds shape the climate around Lake Chad this time of year. At the end of the wet season, (September-October), Lake Chad (center) is at maximum extent, normally covering just under 10,000 square miles, but as the dry season progresses, the absence of rainfall and the unrelenting winds can dry the lake to only 3000 square miles by April or May.
Millions of people from the countries surrounding Lake Chad (clockwise from top left: Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria) depend on the freshwater lake, and increasing demand for water has reduced the lake dramatically. In recent years, agricultural and societal demands for water from the lake have brought Lake Chad's dry season low to less than 900 square miles. Vast dust storms, such as the one pictured in this image from March 12, 2002, advance the desert and create a haze that obscures visibility both on the ground and from space. In the lower portion of the image, dust combines with the smoke from several fires (indicated with red dots) sensed by MODIS' thermal-anomaly detector bands.