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The Middle East Lost Enough Water to Fill the Dead Sea in Just Seven Years

The Middle East is drying up.

In the age of booming populations and changing climate, water scarcity is one of the most massive problems we humanfolk face. Especially those humanfolk who live in super arid regions like India and the Middle East. Speaking of which, a NASA satellite just discovered that an area in the Middle East has lost an amount of water equal to the Dead Sea in just seven years.

Here’s NASA:

… during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.

For a point of reference, here's a satellite shot of the Dead Sea—which, it should be noted, is also rapidly shrinking.

Only India depleted its water stores faster in the same time period. Clearly, as both regions continue to see populations grow, and demand for fresh water continues to spike, sustainable water management will become a top priority. Because, as NASA scientists point out, climate change is poised to exacerbate the situation even further.

"The Middle East just does not have that much water to begin with, and it's a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change," explains Jay Famiglietti, the principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist at UC Irvine. "Those dry areas are getting dryer. The Middle East and the world's other arid regions need to manage available water resources as best they can.”

If they don’t, there’s almost certainly going to be some pretty serious trouble—an ugly specter of widespread thirst, famine, and water wars looms large.