Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reduced rain window in Lebanon threatens water shortage

IRIN: Lebanon faces great changes if average temperatures rise 2-4 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, as most climate change models forecast. According to Wael Hmaidan, executive director of IndyACT, The League of Independent Activists, climate change in the Middle East will affect Lebanon first. “The distribution of rain has changed; the snow density is decreasing and forest fires are spreading,” he said.

Lebanon’s average annual rainfall exceeds 800 million cubic metres (mcm), helping to sustain more than 2,000 springs during the seven-month dry season, the envy of more arid regional countries such as Iraq and Jordan.

But this is changing. “Twenty years ago we used to reckon on 80-90 rainy days a year in Lebanon. Today we forecast 70 rainy days,” said Bassem Jaber, an expert on water from the Implementation of Technical Tools for Water Management (MOTGE) at the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water.

It is not the amount of rain that is changing, said Jaber, but the period in which it falls: “With the same amount of rain, but in a shorter period of time, it cannot seep into the soil. Instead it runs along the ground and washes into the ocean where it is lost. On its way it causes soil erosion, landslides and flash floods. This eventually leads to desertification.”

This change in Lebanon’s weather could, according to IndyACT’s Hmaidan, spell disaster for the country: “Lebanon’s only natural resources are its fair weather, forests and water. The country’s economy is based on tourism, which depends on these resources. If they go, so will Lebanon’s economy.”…

Kfarakab, in Lebanon, released into the public domain by Eliemlf

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