By George Kurzom
Goats grazing near the dry Auja spring in Jordan Valley. The water that used to flow abundantly during the Spring season is no longer running
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
Researchers from NASA, Columbia and Arizona universities have released a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. The study is of the Levant countries located on the Mediterranean basin. They have determined that the region is currently suffering a drought. The research studied deforestation, historical documentation and the tree rings. They drew up a map of the water history in the region. Their results concluded that the current drought is not only that the longest and the driest. The current drought began in 1998 and is the most severe drought in history. Their research discovered that the current drought is the longest and driest in history. It is the driest drought that has hit the region in five hundred years. It has averaged 20-30% drier than all droughts since the year 1100. The most recent drought that hit the Levant region during the period between 1998 and 2012 is drier at about 50% of the driest period over the last five hundred years. The researchers also found that, in most cases, periods of drought in the Levant was compatible with similar drought conditions recorded in Western Europe. Droughts occurring in the eastern Mediterranean regions correlated with those of Western Europe. The researchers also found that when the northern part of the Mediterranean (Greece, Italy and the coasts of France and Spain) were dehydrated, the eastern regions in North Africa had a significant rise in rain; the inverse of the phenomena also occurs. The geographical correlations with the weather phenomena helped the researchers to chart the cause – effect relationships. The effects of deforestation, lack of rain and evaporation were all the major contributing factors to the drought.
Is there a correlation between cases of severe drought and the outbreak of wars?
The drought has been the main contributor to the war in Syria. Syrian farmers have lost their livelihoods forcing them to abandon their villages. They have moved to the cities to find inflation and joblessness. When the Syrian village of Daraa’ was subject to the mass population exodus and scarcity of water the residents were the first city to have a popular uprising.
ISIS has used water to enforce its policies on the population it occupies; by taking over the Euphrates dam it has made itself a player in the region.
Israel has used the water resources as an advantage in negotiations with Palestine and Jordan because of its control over water resources
Some climate experts believe that the Levant region, namely Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, will face in the coming decades, the following dilemmas: There will be the region's longest periods of hot weather, decreased precipitation and high temperatures that will aggravate water crisis. Additionally by 2050, about 634 million people; more than double the current number; will live in the Middle East.
The UN reported in 2013 that millions of people on the Palestinian coast (up to the Gaza Strip) are threatened by rising sea levels, with large parts of Tel Aviv plunging, as well as large areas of the city of Haifa
The April 2015 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),has predicted as long as there is a rise in the degree of global warming; the soil will become drier and cause intensive evaporation. This is the cause of irreversible desertification.
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir