NASA: Alarming water loss in Middle East



MICHAEL CASEY | AP

Published — Thursday 14 February 2013

Last update 14 February 2013 10:19 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DOHA, Qatar: An amount of freshwater almost the size of the Dead Sea has been lost in parts of the Middle East due to poor management, increased demands for groundwater and the effects of a 2007 drought, according to a NASA study.
The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from 2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites which is part of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE. Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of its total stored freshwater, the second fastest loss of groundwater storage loss after India.
About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another fifth was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs and soil drying up. Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found.
“This rate of water loss is among the largest liquid freshwater losses on the continents,” the authors wrote in the study, noting the declines were most obvious after a drought.
The study is the latest evidence of a worsening water crisis in the Middle East, where demands from growing populations, war and the worsening effects of climate change are raising the prospect that some countries could face sever water shortages in the decades to come. Some like impoverished Yemen blame their water woes on the semi-arid conditions and the grinding poverty while the oil-rich Gulf faces water shortages mostly due to the economic boom that has created glistening cities out of the desert.
In a report released during the UN climate talks in Qatar, the World Bank concluded among the most critical problems in the Middle East and North Africa will be worsening water shortages. The region already has the lowest amount of freshwater in the world. With climate change, droughts in the region are expected to turn more extreme, water runoff is expected to decline 10 percent by 2050 while demand for water is expected to increase 60 percent by 2045.
One of the biggest challenges to improving water conservation is often competing demands which has worsened the problem in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins.
Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, as well as the reservoirs and infrastructure of Turkey’s Greater Anatolia Project, which dictates how much water flows downstream into Syria and Iraq, the researchers said. With no coordinated water management between the three countries, tensions have intensified since the 2007 drought because Turkey continues to divert water to irrigate farmland.
“That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq,” Kate Voss, lead author of the study and a water policy fellow with the University of California’s Center for Hydrological Modeling in Irvine, said. “Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater. In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation.”
Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the new study and a hydrologist and UC Irvine professor of Earth System Science, plans to visit the region later this month, along with Voss and two other UC Irvine colleagues, to discuss their findings and raise awareness of the problem and the need for a regional approach to solve the problem.
“They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they’re in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change,” Famiglietti said. “Those dry areas are getting dryer. They and everyone else in the world’s arid regions need to manage their available water resources as best they can.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Three citizens, aged above 65, and a 32-year-old expatriate have died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Riyadh raising the death toll to 471 in Saudi Arabia since June 2012, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.It also reported...
JEDDAH: Five hospitals and health centers across the Kingdom have been ranked among the 10 top hospitals in the Arab World, according to the Webometrics Ranking of World Hospitals 2015 conducted by Cybermetrics Lab. King Faisal Specialist Hospital an...
RIYADH: The children of the martyrs and wounded soldiers will be given preference for jobs in the organization, KACST President Prince Turki bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al-Saud said Riyadh on Tuesday.On an initiative from the Ministry of Education, a two-d...
JEDDAH: The laboratory of Al-Amal Complex for Mental Health was recently ranked fifth in the RIQAS program for biochemistry out of 120 laboratories. It also came in sixth in the same program for the department of hematology among the 60 participants,...
RIYADH: Anticipating high temperatures during the Haj season, the Ministry of Health has made arrangements to install more equipment to treat heatstroke patients among pilgrims, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Al-Mirghalani said following a meeting...
RIYADH: The National Water Company (NWC) has added a new feather to its cap by launching an e-branch (website www.nwc.com.sa) to serve the customers around the clock.The NWC, which aims to become the leading water utility in the Gulf that comes under...
DAMMAM: Traffic regulations in the Kingdom and many countries of the world dedicate the right lane of highways and roads to trucks as they are designed to carry heavy weights in contrast to the other lanes, which are allocated for lighter weight vehi...
RIYADH: The solar-power plant, “Layla,” in Aflaj province, will be opened shortly, Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), has said.The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is one of the signatories, along with King Abdulaziz City for...
RIYADH: The expanded facility for machine readable passports (MRPs) at the Embassy of Pakistan will help the mission process over 1,200 applications on daily basis. The new setup was inaugurated on Tuesday.Saudi Arabia hosts the largest Pakistan comm...
RIYADH: The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) has directed manufacturers and their agents in the Kingdom to strictly follow the safety regulations for the new cars to be marketed to the Kingdom beginning 2017.In a statement r...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Social Affairs recently honored 20 academically gifted orphans whom it had earlier sent to Japan for ten days to visit attractions that include cultural and educational institutions. Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary D...
JEDDAH: Prince Bandar bin Abdullah, member of the board of trustees of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Foundation for Humanitarian Action, spoke at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the invi...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has issued a circular to all health sector employees to ensure they sterilize their hands prior to dealing with patients.The circular, issued by Deputy Minister for Public Health Dr. Abdul Aziz Abdullah bin Saeed, is in...
JEDDAH: The Indonesian Consulate and community have been conducting their 70th Independence Day celebrations for the past three months by having different cultural and social activities. On Tuesday, the consulate arranged a blood donation camp with t...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Penal Court in Jeddah on Tuesday issued a preliminary verdict on the imprisonment of two Saudi suspects to 38 years.The first suspect was charged with firing on the police center in Awamiyah, Qatif Province, while the other wa...

Stay Connected

Facebook