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Evaluation of Extreme Soil Moisture Conditions During the 2020 Sahel Floods and Implications for Disease Outbreaks...

by Assaf Anyamba, Heidi C Tubbs
Publication Type
Journal Name
Geophysical Research Letters
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 9

The June-October 2020 growing season was characterized by sustained and extreme flooding across the African Sahel. One consequence of flooding events such as this is outbreaks of vector borne diseases (VBDs) which are often associated with climate anomalies. In this study, data from the soil moisture active passive (SMAP) mission is used with other soil moisture and precipitation data to show that the 2020 Sahelian growing season was the most extreme over the past four decades, ranking first in seasonally accumulated precipitation, which on average exceeded the climatology by around 300 mm. VBD outbreaks of Rift Valley fever and Chikungunya followed in Mauritania/Senegal and Chad, respectively. In some cases, soil moisture is a better indicator of VBD outbreak risk than precipitation, which has so far been more commonly used in studies of VBD outbreaks. It is expected that this finding will inform future monitoring and prediction efforts for VBD risk.