• Cushing

Dr. Farouk El-Baz sees water where others see desert

On Monday, Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, spoke at assembly regarding his most recent work to increase water resources available in Darfur.

His proposal is based on his research of satellite radar imagery, which indicates that a lake about the size of Lake Erie lies below the sands of northern Darfur. “Access to fresh water is essential for refugee survival, will help the peace process, and provide the necessary resources for the much needed economic development in Darfur,” said Dr. El-Baz.*


Dr. El-Baz explained that his work, which has discovered water in other arid areas of the world, brings him a good feeling knowing that he may be benefiting others and that he hoped to widen his audience’s horizons about what they might be able to do.


Citing an earlier example of his work, Dr. El-Baz described his research into another Saharan region so arid that it received rain perhaps once every fifty years. Yet, from satellite imagery and archeological remains - stones for grinding grain, ostrich shells, hut foundations, and petroglyphs - he surmised that this same region had water some 6000 years before. This water may have collected into a lake and then seeped below the surface thousands of years before the region became drought-stricken. Sure enough, test wells revealed the presence of water, a supply sufficient for 200 years of farming.


Dr. El-Baz described the situation in Darfur as similar. His research has determined that the water is there below the surface and now he must decide the best location for digging the test wells. He has named the project “1,000 Wells for Darfur,” with the United Nations collecting funds for the project. Some of Dr. El-Baz’s Boston University students have already begun collecting money for a BU-sponsored well, and he encouraged Cushing students to consider doing the same.


For more about Dr. El-Baz, click here. For more about the Darfur project, click here.


*This article used material from the Geological Society of America Web site.


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Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.