The recent drought that began almost 20 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean Levant region is likely the worst drought in the past nine centuries, said a study led by NASA. The lack of water regions includes Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Palestine and Syria. NASA, alongside the University of Arizona and Columbia University, has joined forces to create a wide study in order to determine why this drought has lasted so long.
However, researchers are confirming that the drought is, in fact, the worst in a 900 years history record. Scientists were able to reconstruct the Mediterranean’s drought history by studying tree rings located in the dried out area. The ring’s examination is part of the effort to understand the region’s climate and the reasons behind the water frequent shifting from one area to another.
“If we look at recent events and we start to see anomalies that are outside this range of natural variability,” said Ben Cook from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “Then we can say with some confidence that it looks like this particular event or series of events had some kind of human caused climate change contribution.”
It’s worth observing that the tree’s thin rings can indicate dry years while thick rings show years were water was sufficient. Researchers called the method consisting of a used tree-ring record the Old World Drought Atlas. While scientists were able to successfully identify the Mediterranean’s driest years, the team discovered certain patterns in the geographic distribution of droughts.
A Basic guide to understanding recent droughts
The team’s findings could provide a ‘fingerprint’ in order to identify the hidden causes of the massive drought believed to be the worst ever in history. The findings also highlighted that the most recent drought is not only longer but it’s also about 50 percent drier than the worst period of the past 500 years.
With this in mind, the range of how extreme wet or dry periods were is quite broad as the recent drought in the Levant region also shows to be 10 to 20 percent drier than the worst drought of the past 900 years.
The combination of the data resulting from the scientists’ investigation will show the range of natural variation in Mediterranean drought occurrence. This, in turn, will allow scientists to determine if the droughts have been made worse by a human-induced global warming.
The results from the study led by NASA, The University of Arizona and Columbia University were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
According to Ben Cook, the lead author of the new study, we are required by the magnitude and significance of human climate change to really understand the full range of natural climate variability.
It appears that years of human consumption and the frequent carbon emissions polluting the atmosphere have finally taken its toll on planet Earth.