Middle East drought was region's worst in 900 years: NASA

JERUSALEM -- A recent, 14-year dry spell in the Middle East was the worst drought in the past 900 years, according to a new NASA study released this week.

See Full Article

NASA's researchers examined records of rings of trees in several Mediterranean countries to determine patterns of dry and wet years across a span of 900 years. They concluded that the years from 1998 to 2012 were drier than any other period, and that the drought was likely caused by humans.

The study's lead author Ben Cook said the range of extreme weather events in the eastern Mediterranean has varied widely in the past nine centuries, but the past two decades stand out.

"This recent drought falls outside the range of natural variability," he said. Drought has continued in parts of the Middle East, he added.

Cook is a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City.

The researchers used records of tree rings in Northern Africa, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, and combined the data with records from Spain, southern France and Italy to examine patterns of drought across time in the region.

They studied rings of trees, both living and dead, that were sampled all over the region. Rings in the trunks of trees represent years. Thin rings indicate dry years; thick rings show years when water was abundant.

Cook said the research supported other studies indicating human causes of extreme climate events.

Last year, researchers at Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara found that drought triggered a collapse in agriculture in Syria and the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities, straining resources.

The water shortage was one of several contributing factors that had worsened the situation in Syria in the lead-up to the outbreak of that country's devastating civil war in 2011.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the NASA study is one of several worrying reports about unprecedented climate conditions.

Mann was not involved in NASA's study.

In an email to The Associated Press, Mann noted that tree rings "have their limitations and uncertainties," but said "the authors have done a reasonable job in assessing the uncertainties."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • 'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HELENA, Mont. -- Forget the grey, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb. Source
  • Emoji bee? New 'smiley face' bee named after University of Manitoba researcher

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A newly discovered bee with a silly grin has been named after the Manitoba researcher who found it. Called Epeolus gibbsi, the black and white insect bears the name of Jason Gibbs, University of Manitoba Assistant Professor of Entomology, who discovered the new species a few weeks ago. Source
  • NYC bill would give workers 'right to disconnect' from calls, emails

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The city that never sleeps could become the first to tell employees "take a break." That's if a "right to disconnect" bill sponsored by New York City councilman Rafael Espinal passes. Source
  • Cambridge Analytica liquidates

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, daughters of Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer, are liquidating Cambridge Analytica, the troubled data collection agency that worked for U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and caused a global Facebook privacy scandal in recent months. Source
  • How to go plastic free and cut waste in the kitchen

    Tech & Science CBC News
    With plastic bags no longer accepted in Saskatoon recycling bins, and the city aiming for 70 per cent waste diversion by 2023, the average resident may be left scratching their heads about what to do with all the plastic. Source
  • How and when Rogers, Telus and Bell sell your location to third-party companies

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A joint venture between Canada's three largest telecom companies has been selling the real-time location of its subscribers to third parties — as long they have your consent, the company says. EnStream, a joint venture between Rogers, Telus and Bell, isn't new. Source
  • Sea otters make a comeback in southeast Alaska, and fishermen aren't happy

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Northern sea otters, once hunted to the brink of extinction along Alaska's Panhandle, have made a spectacular comeback by gobbling some of the state's finest seafood — and fishermen are not happy about the competition. Sea otters dive for red sea urchins, geoduck clams, sea cucumbers — delicacies in Asia markets — plus prized Dungeness crab. Source
  • Ancient fish species discovered in Nova Scotia as erosion reveals unique fossil

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A species of fish that lived 350 million years ago has been discovered in Nova Scotia, casting new light on a little-understood time period. The discovery was made in 2015 by Jason Anderson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Calgary, at Blue Beach, N.S. Source
  • Archeologists find street of balconies in Italy's Pompeii

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Archeologists inspect excavation works in the archaeological site of Pompeii, Thursday, May 17, 2018. (Ciro Fusco /ANSA via AP) Source
  • Protect Canada's parks from being 'loved to death' says study co-author

    Tech & Science CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Canada is a global leader in protecting its conserved land from human destruction, but its parks are in danger of being "loved to death" by thousands of people trekking through the backcountry, says a co-author of a study that details the degradation of one-third of the world's protected areas. Source