Alarming water loss detected in Mideast

AFP-JIJI

U.S. satellites have detected a large loss of freshwater reserves in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins during a seven-year period beginning in 2003, a new study has found.

The river basins, which water parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, have lost almost as much water as that in the Dead Sea, the study found.

“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,” said lead author Jay Famiglietti.

The study, which is to be published Friday in the journal Water Resources Research, relies on data gathered over a seven-year period by NASA’s GRACE satellites, which track global changes in water reserves. Because changes in water reserves affect the Earth’s mass within a given region, the satellites measure gravity locally to tease out those changes.