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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Climate Change Threatens Cradle of Civilization

"Ancient rain-fed agriculture enabled the civilizations to thrive in the Fertile Crescent region," Pinhas Alpert, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Tel Aviv University, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "But this blessing is soon to disappear due to human-induced climate change."
Together with colleagues from Japan, the Israeli physicist simulated how rainfall patterns and the water flows of major rivers in the region will change over the 21st century. To do that, they made use of a climate change model developed by the Meteorological Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan. The model is unique in that it allows researchers to simulate the climate with a spatial resolution of 20 kilometers, a scale previously unobtained by other global climate models.
The model envisages two possible scenarios for the area's future: a moderate one, in which the average air temperature in the region climbs by 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to the pre-industrial period, by the end of this century. In the extreme scenario, temperatures rise by 4.8 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Climate Change Threatens Cradle of Civilization By Volker Mrasek

Climate change could turn the Fertile Crescent into a barren landscape.Alpert presented the results of his research at the annual conference of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna this week. Even with moderate temperature rises, he stated, the yearly rainfall rate on the Mediterranean coast -- in Syria, Israel and Lebanon -- will fall by 50 to 200 millimeters (2 to 7.9 inches). The Euphrates would carry 30 percent less water than today; in the Ceyhan River in south Turkey the water flow would shrink by 40 percent and in the Jordan River by as much as 80 percent.


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