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

  • RBC joining global tech giants in setting up lab in AI-friendly Montreal

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Canada's largest bank is joining global tech giants in setting up a research lab in Montreal to take advantage of the city's growing artificial intelligence expertise. The Royal Bank of Canada will open a Borealis AI lab in the new year, joining labs in Toronto and Edmonton. Source
  • Archeologists find Roman shipwrecks off Egypt's north coast

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAIRO -- Egypt says archaeologists have discovered three sunken shipwrecks dating back more than 2,000 years to Roman times off the coast of the city of Alexandria. Tuesday's statement from Mostafa Waziri, the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the discovery was made in collaboration with the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology. Source
  • UofT prof documents ancient practice of carving churches out of rock

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ten years ago Michael Gervers visited an ancient church cut into the side of a cliff in a remote region of Ethiopia. The history professor with the University of Toronto had been hunting down antiquities as part of his research on Christian artifacts when locals took him to the area. Source
  • Cigar-shaped asteroid is a visitor from beyond the solar system

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A rocky cigar-shaped object detected in space last month came from another solar system, astronomers said Monday as they confirmed an unprecedented observation. The discovery may provide clues as to how other solar systems formed, said the researchers, who published their study in the British journal Nature. Source
  • Autonomous ships on the horizon for Great Lakes

    Tech & Science CBC News
    One day the freighter you see coming up the Detroit River might not have a crew aboard. The day of autonomous ships is soon dawning. A Norwegian company will be launching a container vessel next year that it expects will not only navigate a river in Norway fully autonomously by 2020, but be battery powered as well. Source
  • Bali volcano spews ash and cloud, alert not raised

    Tech & Science CTV News
    JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali spewed ash and smoke Tuesday, but authorities said its alert level remained unchanged. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the minor eruption began at about 5 p.m. Source
  • Fatbergs to fuel: London's blockage-busting battle in the sewers

    Tech & Science CBC News
    In London's 19th-century sewers, crews in coveralls are waging a 21st-century battle. They're blasting away a monster that feeds on grease and garbage, and its name reflects the beast's potency for revulsion: Fatberg. The monstrosity — a foul-smelling, congealed mass of grease, oil, fat and garbage — is born innocently enough. Source
  • Marine mammals fight for salmon in Pacific Northwest

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Harbour seals, sea lions and some fish-eating killer whales have been rebounding along the Northeast Pacific Ocean in recent decades. But that boom has come with a trade-off: they're devouring more of the salmon prized by a unique but fragile population of endangered orcas. Source
  • Mars theory gets dusted: Streaks may be sand, not water

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A new study suggests that dark streaks on Mars represent flowing sand -- not water. Monday's news throws cold water on 2015 research that indicated that lines on some Martian slopes were signs of water currently on the planet. Source
  • Streaks on Mars likely flowing sand, not water, new research suggests

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new study suggests that dark streaks on Mars are signs of flowing sand — not water. Monday's news throws cold water on 2015 research that indicated these recurring slope lines were signs of water currently on Mars. Source