The water rises…

Although we are now in the dry season of Zambia, the water level of Lake Tanganyika is unusually high. When I arrived in the very north of Zambia, this little hut (photo above) was almost swallowed by the lake. Several friends that live in the little villages close to the shore told me they needed to move out of their houses. For many locals the rising water causes immense problems.

Over the past years the water level of Lake Tanganyika kept rising.

The high water level also affects us. The little path around the Lodge that serves as our research station are partly flooded so we cannot use them. We need to walk a lot more to detour the path…so at least I won’t gain weight (the food is super good!!!!).

The paths are partly flooded and slippery like hell.

Also the whole beach is under water which sounds like a first-world-country problem but, in fact, caused us quite a workout yesterday: I needed to get loads of white sand for my experimental ponds. It has been always pretty tedious to carry the sand in buckets from the beach up to the elevated part of the lodge where the ponds are. This time we carried wet sand, which is even heavier. I am very lucky that all the amazing workers of the lodge were happy to help me. Eventually we could equip all ponds and set up the camera installation, which we need to record the swimming behaviour of the cichlid fish we study.

We equip these huge experimental ponds with sand and rocks from the Lake to simulate the cichlids’ natural habitat.

Field work in general is physically quite exhausting and I can feel my legs already from all the running around BUT it’s just the most beautiful working place and I am grateful for each day on which I can wake up to this stunning view:

Kalambo Falls Lodge, Mpulungu
Lake levels over the past three decades (see reply to Claudi’s comment)

Published by caribiologist

Postdoc at the University of Basel, Switzerland

2 thoughts on “The water rises…

  1. What causes the water to rise every year? Is it a change in intensity of the rainy season? How would the lake usually lose the water? By evaporation? Is that prevented by something? I have questions….
    An African lake having too much water seems to be a contradiction to the stories we get told about climate change. Is it even connected to climate change or a natural phenomenon? Or have there been changes in the lake’s water cycles specifically?


    1. Hey Claudi
      Thanks for your questions! I attached a photo to the blog post which shows the lake level over the course of almost three decades. On this photo you see that the lake level has risen since about 2007. However, the level does not rise constantly. In fact, we are talking about fluctuations here and the highest recorded level ever has not yet been reached again. The usual difference between dry and rainy season is 50-80cm, mostly due to evaporation. This last rainy season created a large volume of rain over East Africa, which caused the high lake level. Whether this is related to climate change is unsure.
      Information provided by Heinz Büscher


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