Saturday, June 19, 2010

Afghanistan's Kabul Basin faces dry and thirsty future

Environment News Service: In Afghanistan's Kabul Basin, at least half the shallow drinking water wells supplied by groundwater are likely to become dry or inoperative within 50 years as a result of climate change, according to new research by U.S. and Afghan scientists. A combination of higher temperatures due to global warming and the increasing demands of a larger population is predicted to stress the basin's water.

These are the findings of a new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the Afghanistan Geological Survey, a division of the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines, and the Afghanistan Ministry of Energy and Water. "Training with USGS scientists has helped our engineers to modernize their skills and improve their capabilities," said Afghanistan Geological Survey Director Mohammed Omar. "Our engineers are using these improvements as they monitor groundwater levels and water quality in the Kabul Basin."

…Over the next 50 years, the researchers estimate that drinking water needs in Afghanistan's Kabul Basin will increase sixfold due to population growth as refugees return. At the same time, future water resources in the basin will be reduced as a result of increasing air temperatures associated with global climate change.

In some areas of the basin, such as in the north along the western mountain front and near major rivers, water resources are generally adequate for current needs. In the east and away from major rivers, the available water resources may not meet future needs….

A tomb-shrine in Afghanistan, shot by Steve Evans, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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