Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Iraq hit by worst sandstorms in decades

Earth Times: … Great walls of sand, driven by scorching hot winds, have crashed against the walls and windows of the city, delaying historic business deals, waylaying diplomatic visits, even interfering with the city's power supply. Iraqis on the streets of the capital lean into the wind, squint, and cover their faces with scarves or surgical masks as they battle the gritty gale. On Sunday the mercury has climbed to 43 degrees Celsius, and meteorologists forecast no relief in the next 24 hours at least.

On Saturday, the sandstorms obliged US Vice President Joe Biden to cancel a planned visit to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous region (Biden telephoned to send his regrets and promised to visit again, Iraqi state television reported). Last week, a sandstorm delayed bidding on eight Iraqi oil and gas fields - the first such bids since the fall of Saddam Hussein - because flights could not land.

The country, parched by two years of drought, has not seen such a punishing wave of sandstorms in decades, government scientists say. The Ministry of Agriculture and local authorities are urging citizens to combat desertification. Shepherds are being asked to minimize the damage their animals do by grazing on desert plants, particularly around urban areas, to help keep the dust anchored by roots.

"The dust storms will continue through the summer," Fadel al-Firaji, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's anti-desertification department, told the German Press Agency dpa. "The bedouin in the desert, the stripping of the land's natural vegetation, and the planting of grain crops in an arbitrary and ill-advised manner are to blame," he said.

"Since the 1991 (Gulf War), military vehicles have been moving through desert areas," he added. "This removed the packed, solid surface layer of the desert and exposed the land to wind erosion, which in turn damaged the shrubs in the desert. The problem worsened after the tragic events of the 2003 (invasion of the Iraq)."….

A 2005 sandstorm in Iraq, US Department of Defense

2 comments:

nabhanipa said...

I was just remembering that on the hour of invasion for both the 1991 and 2003 invasion of Iraq that a 'freak' sandstorm hit both times...it would be against the attacker to have a sandstorm during the initial movements of the attack...could this have been manipulated through the weather modification techniques of the Chinese to thwart the invasion ?? this article seems to be blaming the sandstorms on the use of military vehicles wearing down the native plants...but the sandstorm began at the beginning of the attacks...what do you think ?

Brian Thomas said...

I have no idea, nor do I have an inkling of how this hypothesis could be tested.