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

  • Warming climate could affect life in Arctic Ocean, says new study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Climate change is transforming the Arctic Ocean in ways that could permanently alter the food chain and impact ocean species, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at the concentration of the chemical element radium-228 in the central Arctic Ocean and found that between 2007 and 2015 the concentration doubled. Source
  • No drunk or stoned droning: New Jersey passes ban

    Tech & Science CTV News
    New Jersey has added drunk droning to the statute books, outlawing the flying of unmanned aircraft after one too many drinks. The law makes it an offense to operate a drone under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 per cent or more. Source
  • Environmental impact of N.S. turbines must be researched: executive director

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's bid to become a world leader in tidal energy received a boost today when Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan announced a new competition for research funding. MacLellan says $150,000 is being offered to support five research projects that will involve the use of Dalhousie University's Aquatron -- one of Canada's largest aquatic research facilities. Source
  • World's largest sea turtle could come off 'endangered' list

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Federal ocean managers say it might be time to move the East Coast population of the world's largest turtle from the U.S.'s list of endangered animals. An arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received a petition from a fishing group asking that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean's leatherback sea turtles be listed as "threatened," but not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. Source
  • No increase in earthquakes during full or new moons, study suggests

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The moon may be the cause of some things that happen on Earth, but earthquakes aren't one of them, a new study suggests. There's been an ongoing debate as to whether or not more earthquakes occur when the moon's tidal forces — its pull — is strongest. Source
  • BlackBerry's 'Jarvis' scans connected, autonomous cars for software vulnerabilities

    Tech & Science CTV News
    At the Detroit motor show, BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, unveiled the firm's new cybersecurity software, Jarvis, designed to analyze the many software systems used in connected and autonomous cars to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Jarvis aims to analyze all of the complex IT systems onboard connected and autonomous vehicles with speed and reliability. Source
  • Welcome to the neighbourhood. Have you read the terms of service?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The L-shaped parcel of land on Toronto's eastern waterfront known as Quayside isn't much to look at. There's a sprawling parking lot for dry-docked boats opposite aging post-industrial space, where Parliament Street becomes Queens Quay. To its south is one of the saddest stretches of the Martin Goodman trail, an otherwise pleasant running and biking route that spans the city east to west. Source
  • Canada's deepest cave discovered by Calgary-based expedition

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It's definitely not for the claustrophobically inclined. A Calgary-based expedition has recently documented what's believed to be Canada deepest cave just north of Fernie, B.C. Kathleen Graham and Jeremy Bruns were part of a nine-person team of volunteer explorers who made the discovery around the new year. Source
  • Tips on how to protect yourself online

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The case of an Ontario man who allegedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars by peddling massive troves of personal information obtained on the so-called dark web is a sobering reminder of the scale of online threats Canadians face every day. Source
  • B.C. man charged in alleged 'spambot' attack on video streaming platform

    Tech & Science CTV News
    COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A British Columbia man has been charged with mischief after a U.S.-based social media platform was allegedly flooded with thousands of spam messages, effectively shutting down many of its channels. Brandan Lukus Apple of Coquitlam was charged Dec. Source