Sunday, May 18, 2008

Israeli water shortage anticipated

Israeli Ministry of Environment: Fifty years of observation in the Mediterranean Basin reveal several trends: increased warming in the summer and increased precipitation in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea as opposed to decreased precipitation in most of the Mediterranean Sea Basin, including countries near Israel such as Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

The Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Dr. Yeshayahu Bar Or, warns that existing desalination plans will not respond to the water shortage which is anticipated in Israel due to climate change, pollution of water reservoirs and urbanization processes.

…According to Dr. Bar Or, the trend of global warming in all seasons, and especially during night hours, by some 2 degrees Celsius, will impact on Israel's future water economy. This trend began in the 1970s and was accompanied by an increase in the number of warm and cold days in July-August. This trend translates into an increase in the quantity of water required to irrigate agricultural areas and gardens.

Another impact on Israel's water economy is a reduction in the available water volume in Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the Jordan Valley at an average of some 110 million cubic meters per year (about 6.5% of Israel's water consumption). Dr. Bar Or notes that this decrease is directly related to the decrease in precipitation, which is caused, it appears, by climate change, as well as an increase in the quantity of particulate air pollution during the second half of the 20th century.

…According to Dr. Bar Or: "All these will lead to warming and aridity in the future, which may bring about a 35% reduction in the precipitation volume by the end of the present century. In addition, areas with inadequate infiltration capacity, such as heavy soils and built up areas, will experience more floods and at greater intensities, which will cause significant damage to human life, the environment, property and the economy. Wide scale building, especially on the coastal plain, will block the infiltration rainwater to the soil and the enrichment of groundwater, leading to a decrease in available drinking water from groundwater. In addition, sea level rise in the Mediterranean Sea may accelerate the desalination processes of the coastal aquifer."...

Satellite image of Israel, NASA/GSFC, Wikimedia Commons

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