NASA: the drought in eastern Mediterranean is the worst of past 900 years


A research of NASA and of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City mentioned that the recent drought that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean, is probably the worst in 900 years.

Scientists based their estimation mainly on the study of tree rings. The relevant figures for Greece are included in the so-called “Old World Drought Atlas”. Data from the tree-ring were combined with climate descriptions of historical documents. The absence or abundance of water in an area over time affects the growth of trees. Thin rings indicate dry years while thick rings show years when water was plentiful.

The survey aims among others to demonstrate the impact on the climate of the region because of human activity.

According to the new estimates, drought after 1998 in Levante area stands out as about 50 percent drier than the driest period in the past 500 years, and 10 to 20 percent drier than the worst drought of the past 900 years. In addition, the science team found that when the northern part of the Mediterranean (Greece, Italy, southern France, southern Spain) tended to be dry when eastern North Africa was wet, and vice versa.

The fluctuations of drought in the Mediterranean climate are related with Atlantic. There are periodic phases that tend to steer rainstorms away from the Mediterranean and bring in dryer, warmer air. The resulting lack of rain and higher temperatures, which increase evaporation from soils, lead to droughts. All climate models estimate that the Mediterranean is one of the areas that is unanimously projected as going to dry in the future. This new study shows that the drought in the Levant is the harbinger of what will follow in the future.

Here you could read the article published in the scientific Journal of Geophysical Reasearch

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