Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Syria’s Drought Has Likely Been Its Worst in 900 Years

Syrian farmers collect crops in a field in Daraa, 100 kms south of Damascus, on June 5, 2010. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributions of emergency food assistance to almost 200,000 drought-affected people in Syria. (Credit: AFP Photo/Louai Beshara) Click to Enlarge.
More than 1 million people have streamed into Europe in the past year.  The 1 million refugees represent just a portion of the 4.2 million that have fled Syria in all directions.  And that’s on top of the 7.6 million people internally displaced in Syria who are trapped in limbo in their home country.

War has been the direct driver of the refugee flux and behind that is a complex mix of social and political factors both inside and outside the region.  One fiercely studied and debated driver has been a recent dip into a series of severe droughts starting in the late 1990s.

Previous work has prescribed some of the drought — and its impact on the socioeconomic fabric in the Middle East — to climate change.  New findings published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres put it in even starker context, showing that the drought is likely the worst to affect the region in 900 years.

The Mediterranean as a whole has been subject to widespread drought at various points in the past 20 years.  Climate models project that the region is likely to get drier in the future, which Ben Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said drove the new line of inquiry.

Read more at Syria’s Drought Has Likely Been Its Worst in 900 Years

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