Agricultural Fields along the Shebelle River, Ethiopia

Note: This caption refers to the image versions labeled "NASA's Earth Observatory web site".

The Shebelle River supports limited agricultural development within the arid to semi-arid Ogaden Plateau region of southeastern Ethiopia. This detailed astronaut photograph illustrates a network of irrigation canals and fields located approximately 42 kilometers to the west-northwest of the city of Gode, Ethiopia. Floodplain sediments and soils are dark brown to gray (image center), and contrast with reddish rocks and soils of the adjacent plateau.

Water in the Shebelle River, and the irrigation canals, has a bright, mirror-like appearance due to sunglint, or light reflecting off the water surface back towards the astronaut observer on the International Space Station. Vegetation in the floodplain (image top center) and agricultural fields is dark green. The river water supports a variety of crops--the most common being sorghum and maize --as well as grazing for livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, and camels).

The Shebelle River has its headwaters in the Ethiopian Highlands, and transports water and sediment 1000 kilometers to the southeast across Ethiopia, continuing an additional 130 kilometers into neighboring Somalia. The Shebelle River does not reach the Indian Ocean during most years, but disappears into the sands near the coast in Somalia. During periods of heavy rainfall and flooding however, the Shebelle can reach the Indian Ocean.

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