'Middle East has lost 144 cubic km of water'

Editors' Picks

  • U.S seek Gold Cup glory in shadow of women's team

    U.S seek Gold Cup glory in shadow of women's team

    U.S seek Gold Cup glory in shadow of women's team

    There are few countries where a men's national team can be overshadowed by its women's side but Juergen Klinsmann's United States face the task of grabbing public attention back for this week's CONCACAF Gold Cup start. The Americans won the Women’s World Cup on Sunday with a 5-2 triumph over Japan, watched by a reported 25 million fans on television, but on Tuesday Klinsmann’s U.S. men's team kick off their attempt to defend their regional title. There will be a fraction of the audience for …

  • United winger Nani signs three-year deal with Fenerbahce

    United winger Nani signs three-year deal with Fenerbahce

    United winger Nani signs three-year deal with Fenerbahce

    Portugal winger Nani has joined Fenerbahce from Manchester United for six million euros on a three-year deal, the Turkish league runners-up announced on Monday. "I am delighted with the way fans reacted to my transfer, I can promise that I will give my heart to the club," Nani, 28, told a news conference at the club's Sukru Saracoglu stadium. Nani, who won four Premier League titles and the Champions League at United, signed a five-year deal with the Old Trafford club in September 2013. …

  • Angel Di Maria rues missed opportunity after Argentina lose Copa America final

    Angel Di Maria rues missed opportunity after Argentina lose Copa America final

    Angel Di Maria rues missed opportunity after Argentina lose Copa America final

    Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria expressed disappointment that they couldn't convert their chances to end Argentina's long wait for silverware. …

  • Report: Manchester United forward Robin van Persie agrees terms with Fenerbahce

    Report: Manchester United forward Robin van Persie agrees terms with Fenerbahce

    Report: Manchester United forward Robin van Persie agrees terms with Fenerbahce

    The Manchester United striker has fallen out of favour at Old Trafford …

  • Chelsea sign Falcao on one-year loan

    Chelsea sign Falcao on one-year loan

    Chelsea sign Falcao on one-year loan

    Premier League champions Chelsea signed Colombia striker Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan from Monaco on Friday with an option to make the deal permanent. The 29-year-old had an indifferent spell on loan at Manchester United last term, scoring four goals in 29 games. "I am very happy to be joining Chelsea and can't wait to start training and help with our aim of retaining the league title and being successful in Europe," Falcao told the club website (www.chelseafc.com). …

  • Chelsea announce signing of Radamel Falcao on loan from AS Monaco

    Chelsea announce signing of Radamel Falcao on loan from AS Monaco

    Chelsea announce signing of Radamel Falcao on loan from AS Monaco

    The Blues have officially signed ex-Manchester United player on a season-long loan …

Washington, Feb 13 (IANS) The Middle East has lost 144 cubic km of water between 2003 and 2010, nearly equal to the staggering volume of the Dead Sea, show data provided by the NASA satellites.

Four countries of the region along the Tigris and Euphrates - Turkey upstream to Syria, Iran and Iraq below - alone account for the unprecedented loss. The Middle East is strained by the rapid loss of critical water reserves and mounting political tensions.

University of California-Irvine scientists and colleagues say the Tigris-Euphrates watershed is drying up at a pace second only to that in India. "This rate is among the largest liquid freshwater losses on the continents," they say, the journal Water Resources Research reports.

Water management is a complex issue in the Middle East, "a region that is dealing with limited water resources and competing stakeholders," says Katalyn Voss, water policy fellow with the California's Centre for Hydrologic Modeling at Irvine, who led the study, according to a California statement.

Turkey has jurisdiction over the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, as well as the reservoirs and infrastructure of its Southeastern Anatolia Project, which dictates how much water flows downstream into Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Unable to conduct measurements on the ground in the politically unstable region, researchers used data from space, provided by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, to uncover the extent of the problem.

They found that depletion was especially striking after a drought struck the area in 2007. Researchers attribute the bulk of it - about 60 percent - to pumping of water from underground reservoirs.

GRACE is "like having a giant scale in the sky. Whenever you do international work, it's exceedingly difficult to obtain data from different countries," says Jay Famiglietti, principal study investigator and professor of Earth system science at California.

"For political, economic or security reasons, neighbours don't want each other to know how much water they're using. In regions like the Middle East, where data are relatively inaccessible, satellite observations are among the few options," he adds.