Freshwater Volume Equivalent to the Dead Sea Has Been Lost
A NASA study found that 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.
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. 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 of its total stored freshwater.
About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water and another fifth due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs.
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 ofclimate 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.