Assessing Water Volume Fluctuations in Africa's Lake Victoria Using NASA Satellite Measurements


  • ASHLEY CHON Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
  • John Qu Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA



Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh-water lake by surface area and Africa’s largest lake. For this reason, 30 million people in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda rely on Lake Victoria for water supply. Due to this heavy reliance, it is critical to monitor Lake Victoria. Due to climate change, recent major changes in African weather have caused Lake Victoria’s water levels to vary greatly. Initially, rising temperatures have caused water levels to decrease, but unprecedented high amounts of rainfall have caused Lake Victoria to flood in the past several years. Warning residents of these fluctuations ahead of time is crucial for many people’s safety and health. Monitoring such a large lake solely through on-site data collection is inefficient and insufficient to predict these fluctuations. To combat this issue, scientists often use satellite imaging, particularly precipitation. However, it is difficult to predict water volume fluctuations far enough ahead of time to warn residents only with precipitation data. This study aims to compare the effectiveness of predicting water volume fluctuations between precipitations (the traditional method) and Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) for Lake Victoria using [insert satellite name] data collected since 2000 to present. This study proves that NDWI has the ability to predict fluctuations in water level further ahead in time in comparison to precipitation. Such findings can be implemented into new technologies to better forecast water volume fluctuations in Lake Victoria to warn residents ahead of time. These results can also potentially be applied to other bodies of water as well. 





College of Science: Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science