Climatic and Environmental Effect in the Niger Delta
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2.0 General Analysis
3.0 Method of Data Collection
4.0 Climate and Environment
4.1 Weather and Climate
4.1.4 Thunderstorm Days
4.2 Environmental Effect
4.2.1 Industrial Environment
4.2.2 Gas Flaring
4.2.3 Marine Environment
CLIMATIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECT IN THE NIGER DELTA
The Niger Delta is located at the Atlantic Coast of the Southern part of Nigeria. It is the outlet of River Niger and Benue to the Ocean through rivers, creeks and estuaries. It is the second largest delta in the world with coastline spanning about 450 kilometers terminating at the Imo river entrance (Uyique, Etiosa 2007). It is described as the largest wetland in Africa and among the three largest in the world. The region spans over 20,000 square kilometers hoisting about 25% of the Nigeria population. About 2370 square kilometers of the Niger Delta consist of Rivers, creeks and estuaries while stagnant swamp covers about 8,600 square kilometers and has the largest mangrove swamp in Africa. The mangrove swamp extends about 1900 square kilometers. The region falls within the tropical rain forest zone (Joe-Alagoa, E., 2002).
The Niger Delta formerly occupied the southern part of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria. Presently, they have been group under the umbrella of the south-south geopolitical zone. These areas are rich in oil and gas and account for about 95 percent of Nigerian foreign earnings. Oil was first discovered in 1958 in this area, since then oil has dominated the Nigerian economy (Uyigue 2009, okecha 2003). The Niger Delta environment has degraded due to oil exploration and exploitation. This slow poisoning of the waters in the area and the destruction of vegetation and agricultural lands by oil spillage has devastating effect on the land.
Since the operation of the oil industry in Nigeria till date there has been no concerned or effective effort on the part of the government, let alone the oil operators to control environmental problems associated with the oil industry (Wikipedia 2010).
The environmental devastation associated with the industry and the lack of distribution of oil wealth or rather the neglect of the affected people have been the source and the key aggravating factors of numerous environmental movements and inter – ethnic conflicts in the region, including the recent guerilla activity by the movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
After the establishment of several commissions or agencies, the Niger Delta Development Commission was established in 2000 with an aim to suppress the environmental and ecological impact petroleum has had in the region. By this move three other states (Imo, Abia and Ondo) were added to make up the present nine states of the Niger Delta. Its administration has always been political and the level of corruption in the country has made no impact on the people. Before the exploration of oil in this area it was regarded as the richest delta in the world.
The reasons for the study is to know
(i) The climatic effect in the area
(ii) The Environmental effect as a result of oil spillage and gas flaring
2.0 GENERAL ANALYSIS:
The Niger Delta environment can be divided into four ecological zones. These are the coastal inland zone, the mangrove swamp forest zone, the fresh water swamp zone and the lowland rain forest zone (Joe-Alagoa 2002). These zones will enable the analysis of different environmental factors especially the influence of the ocean on the land mass.
The Coastal Inland Zone: These are areas directly exposed to the influence of the sea breeze. These area are few kilometers from the ocean, therefore the marine effect is much on the land. The soil is of sandy beach at the shores and swampy with Raphia hookeri forest inwards. The salinity of the ground water is high thereby reduced soil resistivity but high level of corrosion.
The mangrove swamp forest: These are the inland areas with several rivers and creeks with tall mangroves (Rhizophora Racemesa). They are mostly seen at the banks of rivers and creeks on soft mud. Some of the soft mud are dark in colour with usual smell of Hydrogen sulphide. The inland and some areas are of peaty clay (Chikoko) having stunted short mangroves.
The influence of the ocean is much, therefore the salt spray due to strong wind from the ocean affect these lands. These areas extend to the fresh water swamp with mixture of other vegetations. The salinity of these areas varies from the sea coast to the inland sometimes the salinity varies according to the flow of tide and the seasons. The area is a low swamp but could be accompanied by some higher soil formations with soil formation of sand and clay. The ground water level is below 2 meters and always has small but varying soil resistivity.
The Fresh Water Swamps: These areas start from fresh water / salt water transition zone and moved inland to the brackish water. There is also a decrease of salinity level where the mangroves are sparing seen at the bank and are replaced by different vegetation while some areas are colonized by Raphia vinifera and nipa palms.
The soil is clayey silt. The soil pH in such an area is moderate (5.5 – 6.0) which become more acidic if allowed to dry.
The Low-Land Rain Forest Zone: The soil of this area is clay with varying proportion of sand composition in different areas. Its land mass is not hilly and is well drained, few areas pond after the rain and dry up after some days of sunshine. The vegetation is thick and it supports agriculture. The influence of the ocean is minimal therefore the salt content is very low with higher pH (4.5 – 5.0). The ground moisture table is low about 3 meters (Afa and Anaele 2010).
3.0 METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION
The climatic data were collected from the meteorological station from Federal Ministry of aviation. Others were collected from some study group like the CREDA, and from the book, lands and people of Rivers State. Personal observation were made and recorded for the past two years.
4.0 CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT:
4.1 WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The effect of weather and climate are global, therefore the analysis were based on factors that influence weather changes in Nigeria. Nigerian weather and climate are influenced by two major surface air masses. These are the warm moist South-westerly air mass and the warm dry north-easterly air mass. The two air masses arise as a result of the interplay between two major pressure and wind systems. The north-east trade wind from the Sahara and the South-West from the South Atlantic have been conditioned by nature of their source region and they follow the apparent movement of the sun which moves through Nigeria twice on its way to and from the topic of cancer. Both air masses flow over Nigeria at various seasons of the year (Joe-Alagoa 2002,Awosika 1995).