NASA notes alarming freshwater loss in Middle East

News study by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration says region has lost over points to loss of over 144 cubic/km over last seven years


 A new study by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found an alarming decrease in the amount of freshwater available in the Middle East.

 The report said that an amount of freshwater “almost the size of the Dead Sea” has been lost in parts of the Middle East over the past seven years.

  According to a NASA press release, scientists at the University of California, the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, found that “During a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 144 cubic kilometers of total stored freshwater.”

 The researchers attribute about 60% of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs, the NASA release said.

 The findings, which will be featured in the coming issue of Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region.

 According to the researchers, since obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, were essential.

  GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries, NASA said.


GRACE satellite data (Screenshot: NASA website)

 “GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,” Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine, said.

 “The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.”

 GRACE,” he added, “Is the only way we can estimate groundwater storage changes from space right now.”

 The data led the team to conclude that about one-fifth of the water loss noted was the result of soil drying up and snowpack shrinking, partly in response to the 2007 drought.

 According to the study, loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another 20% of the losses. The majority of the water lost – roughly 90 cubic kilometers – was due to reductions in groundwater.

 “That’s enough water to meet the needs of tens of millions to more than a hundred million people in the region each year, depending on regional water use standards and availability,” Famiglietti said.

 “Water management is a complex issue in the Middle East,” fellow researcher Kate Voss noted. “It’s an area that is already dealing with limited water resources and competing stakeholders.”

  Famiglietti added: “The Middle East just does not have that much water to begin with, and it’s a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change.

 “Those dry areas are getting dryer. The Middle East and the world’s other arid regions need to manage available water resources as best they can.”

NASA’s GRACE is a joint mission with the German Aerospace Center and the German Research Center for Geosciences, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin.


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1 thought on “NASA notes alarming freshwater loss in Middle East

  1. The old oil mariner
    Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Witch’s oil flows down below there,
    Nor any drop to drink.

    “Approximately 97 percent to 98 percent of the water on planet Earth is saltwater (the estimates vary slightly depending on the source). Much of the remaining freshwater is frozen in glaciers or the polar ice caps. Lakes, rivers and groundwater account for about 1 percent of the world’s potentially usable freshwater.”
    ‘Nowadays, politicians in Africa are generally more concerned with market efficiency, economic growth rates, productivity of financial capital and the security of the rich than they are about human rights and the security of the people. In African countries, if progress is identified with economic growth alone, it leads to the gradual loss of the representative aspects of their institutions and an increasing gap between public institutions and citizens; the latter are considered as consumers, clients, people with savings, all merely aimed at benefiting the stock exchanges.’
    ‘Nestlé is the global leader in the exploitation of water across the globe. It has 67 bottling factories and sells in more than 130 countries. In Pakistan, Nestlé, the world leader in bottled water, invented a “blue-print factory” that could be shipped to any location in the world. It chose Pakistan for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is the only country in the region that has an unregulated groundwater sector, meaning that anyone can simply dig a hole and extract as much water as they want without paying a penny. The Pure Life water has been produced in Pakistan, Asia, Africa and South America and is marketed as “capturing nature in its purest form”. In short, Nestlé now owns and distributes “nature” on every continent.’ (New Internationalist)
    SALMON, Idaho, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Government testing of a drinking water aquifer near a tiny Wyoming town has shown concentrations of gases like ethane and propane and diesel compounds, but a natural gas company said it did not cause the contamination.

    A report by the U.S. Geological Survey showed petroleum-based pollutants in samples from a monitoring well in the aquifer adjacent to Pavillion, Wyoming, which is at the center of a national debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
    Albert, www

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