Middle East Losing Oceans of Water

38 trillion gallons gone in seven years

Drought

Drought     Photo: the Italian voice/Flickr

In less than a decade, the Middle East has lost stocks of freshwater amounting to the size of the Dead Sea, according to a new study from NASA.

Examining seven years' worth of data from two gravity-measuring satellites, researchers found that Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq had lost an unprecedented 117 million acre feet, or 38 trillion gallons, of water.

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 severe 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 U.N. 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.

The report, which is set to be published Friday in Water Resources Journal, attributed about 60 percent of the reduction to overuse of underground reservoirs, with the remaining 40 percent coming from decreased snowpack and loss of surface water.

Via ABC News

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