Chad Once among the largest lakes in the world - at some 9,000 square miles, roughly the size of New Jersey - Lake Chad in central Africa has been decimated over the past four decades by rising temperatures, diminishing rainfall and a growing population that's using more water. Today, estimated at less than 2 percent of its original size, the lake's surface would barely cover Brooklyn and Manhattan.
In the dust bowl of western Chad, where the lake used to be deepest, water levels have dropped so low that several new islands have cropped up. Fishermen report that fish stocks are depleted. Much of the lake is a dull gray-blue marshland, shallow enough to wade through.
The changes are so dramatic that the United Nations Environmental Program called Lake Chad "a ghost of its former self" in a 2006 report.
Its disappearance is another sign of the impact of global warming and population growth, and an ominous development for the lake basin's
30 million inhabitants.