Sunday, April 14, 2013

Climate change to hit Saudi's agriculture, water

Wagdy Sawahel in SciDev.net: Scientists in Saudi Arabia say that by the end of 2050 parts of the country will be hotter and have reduced precipitation, which could affect agricultural productivity. The work was published in February's issue of the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.  It predicts that average temperatures in Saudi Arabia could increase by as much as four degrees Celsius, increasing agricultural water demands by up to 15 per cent to maintain current productivity levels.

Researchers investigated the effects of climate change on water resources in Saudi Arabia by analysing data on precipitation, relative humidity, soil moisture, temperature and wind speed from 1978 to 2003.

Lead researcher Shakhawat Chowdhury, of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and his colleague Muhammad Al-Zahrani, based at the same university, found that higher temperatures could increase the levels of dissolved organic matter — such as ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus — in surface water, especially after long periods of drought.

They say reductions in deep aquifer recharge, as a result of lower rates of rain as well as a rise in temperature, and surface run-off may dry out some of the country's valley basins, further reducing agricultural productivity.

Similar predictions have been made in previous reports, such as the 2012 World Bank report on climate change adaptation in the Middle East and North Africa region....

NASA image of the Arabian Peninsula

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