Working for birds in Africa

Geography

Fri, 01/18/2013 - 19:58 -- abc_admin
Rufous_tailed_Scrub_Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes immature, Sokolo, Mali

Image Credit: 
Mary Crickmore

Mali is a large land-locked country lying between 10 degrees and 26 degrees N. latitude and with an estimated population of 11million. It has borders with Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte D'Ivoire and Guinea. The climatic system is dominated by the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) which is produced where the sun lies overhead at midday, heating the ground and causing air to rise. Convergent winds come from the north and the south and the rising warm air produces violent convection clouds and rainfall, with sometimes violent downpours of 30 mm or more in one hour.

This weather formation passes north of the equator in the summer and south in the winter. As a result, the lower latitudes in Mali have a longer rainy season--May through October--and at around 15 degrees latitude in central Mali the rains are usually limited to July and August. During the dry season there is almost no precipitation. The average annual rainfall in the 1970s varied from 51 mm in Tessalit in the Sahara, 153 mm in Timbuktu, 450 mm in Mopti, and 1129 mm in Sikasso in southernmost Mali.

There is also great variation from year to year in the amount of rainfall. As a result, the level of water in the Niger interior delta may fall significantly, or flood and destroy houses and crops. Major droughts happened in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the Sahel many dead trees that succumbed to those droughts are still visible. Further details can be found at CIA Factbook.

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