Dry and Drought in the Middle East?

I’ve mentioned before that there is a pattern of drought during cold times and that drought tends to cause the fall of empires in the Middle East.



It is the thesis of this study that the two Dark Ages, and the numerous disasters in the periods c. 2200-2000 and c. 1200-900 B.C., can be given coherence and can all be explained at once by a single primary cause. The cause I postulate as “historical reality” is drought-widespread, severe, and prolonged lasting for several decades and occurring more or less simultaneously over the entire eastern Mediterranean and adjacent lands.

Here’s a report saying that their are real and present water issues there. This, IMHO, is a big “Dig Here!”, but I’m tied up for the next day or two on other things.


The Middle East runs out of water

By Daniel Pipes – – Friday, May 8, 2015

A ranking Iranian political figure, Issa Kalantari, recently warned that past mistakes leave Iran with water supplies so insufficient that up to 70 percent, or 55 million out of 78 million Iranians, would be forced to abandon their native country for parts unknown.

Many facts buttress Kalantari’s apocalyptic prediction: Once lauded in poetry, Lake Urmia, the Middle East’s largest lake, has lost 95 percent of its water since 1996, going from 31 billion cubic meters to 1.5 billion. What the Seine is to Paris, the Zayanderud was to Isfahan – except the latter went bone-dry in 2010. Over two-thirds of Iran’s cities and towns are “on the verge of a water crisis” that could result in drinking water shortages; already, thousands of villages depend on water tankers. Unprecedented dust storms disrupt economic activity and damage health.

Nor are Iranians alone in peril; many others in the arid Middle East may also be forced into unwanted, penurious, desperate exile. With a unique, magnificent exception, much of the Middle East is running out of water due to such maladies as population growth, short-sighted dictators, distorted economic incentives, and infrastructure-destroying warfare. Some specifics:

They then list many middle eastern countries, but mostly concentrate on population growth and bad ideas by government, with little on actual precipitation changes. One would likely need to do things like look way upstream of Iraq at the precipitation in the mountains to have clue about the rivers.

So mostly I can only put two small thoughts here.

1) Is this in the context of drought, or really just government driven screwups?

2) What happens if this cold period does result in a real mega-drought there, again?

So two links. Saying they ARE having a real drought.


Economy | Fri Mar 7, 2014 11:01am EST

Middle East drought a threat to global food prices


The Middle East’s driest winter in several decades could pose a threat to global food prices, with local crops depleted and farmers’ livelihoods blighted, U.N. experts and climatologists say.

Varying degrees of drought are hitting almost two thirds of the limited arable land across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.

“Going back to the last 100 years, I don’t think you can get a five-year span that’s been as dry,” said Mohammad Raafi Hossain, a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) environmental economist.

The dry season has already hurt prospects for the cereal harvest in areas of Syria and to a lesser extent Iraq. Several of the countries under pressure are already significant buyers of grain from international markets.

“When governments that are responsible for importing basic foodstuffs have shortages in production, they will go to outside markets, where the extra demand will no doubt push global food prices higher,” said Nakd Khamis, seed expert and consultant to the FAO.

The Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) shows the region has not had such low rainfall since at least 1970.

Um… weren’t the ’70s a “cold period”?… Just saying…

This one has a drought map that makes California look like the tropics compared to Iran.


With that, I have to go pay bills… Sigh. I’d much rather look up rainfall records and drought status and…

Inspired by a comment on WUWT by Doug Huffman:


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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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9 Responses to Dry and Drought in the Middle East?

  1. punmaster52 says:

    . . . Once lauded in poetry, Lake Urmia, . . .

    How? Nothing rhymes with it. Must be different in Persian.

  2. M Simon says:

    Varying degrees of drought are hitting almost two thirds of the limited arable land across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.

    Hmmmm. They couldn’t say Israel. The Israelis are big on drip irrigation. And designing chips for Intel. And of course Raphael Mechoulam.

    And no mention of the Food for Alcohol program.

  3. M Simon says:

    Ah. They do get to Israel near the bottom:

    Only Israel will not face acute problems, helped by its long-term investment in desalination plants and pioneering water management techniques.

    And another failure for socialism.

    Economic hardship was aggravated by faltering public subsidy schemes that once efficiently distributed subsidized fertilizers and seeds to millions of drought-hit farmers in both Syria and Iraq, agro-economists add.

    Oil socialism no longer works well. Venezuela is the harbinger.

    An oil guy predicted the collapse of Iran as an oil exporter in the 2015 to 2020 era. We shall see.

    Oil Outlook

  4. Ian W says:

    Of course the other aspect of droughts is that the atmosphere is drier so the atmospheric enthalpy is lower. This means that the amount of energy required to raise the temperature by a degree is reduced. In consequence the atmosphere rises in temperature with the same amount of heat energy. The earth has not warmed it just has lower enthalpy. Don’t tell the climate scientists they do not understand.

  5. Power Grab says:

    I was looking for a striking pair of photos of the area around Las Vegas, taken 10 years apart. The newer photo showed a much larger green belt around the city, and was attributed to the use of holistic grazing techniques. Not finding it after a short search, I did find this page:


    Near the bottom is a photo taken at the fenceline between two pastures. The greener side is actively grazed by cattle, while the dry-looking side has not been grazed for 20+ years.

    I wish I could paste the photo in here. Is there a way to do that?

    [Reply: Like this? -E.M.Smith ]

    Point is, in recent years, people who practice sustainable grazing techniques (sometimes called “mob grazing”) have made some incredible strides in keeping pastureland productive. One of the main tenets is to make sure you don’t kill off the organic matter in the soil, something which chemical fertilizers tend to do, big time. Soil that has plenty of organic matter in it is better at holding moisture. Another thing to look for in a pastureland is the lack of “cow patties” (dried-out blobs of manure). Healthy pasture has dung beetles which take care of manure in pretty short order.

    I always wondered about the Middle East, and whether its vast areas of dry, barren sand could not be revived if not subjected to the huge amount of punishment that it undoubtedly suffers under rule of tyrants.

    They do say, after all, that Israel is able to “make the desert bloom”.

    But look also at California – when it has husbanded its water wisely (not flushing the equivalent of whole reservoirs into the ocean, which prevents its being used by farmers), it served us well as the source of our nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Heck, even in the traditional “Dust Bowl”, wiser land management practices make for a more verdant landscape, etc.

    I also think that reducing the influence of tribal, us-versus-them attitudes also help improve everyone’s lifestyle. I must stop soon. I’m starting to sound like a Greenie. ;-)

    But I want to also add that the level of cooperation that leads to improvement in everyone’s lifestyle is best done at a cultural level, and not through governmental coercion.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes. I just did.

    Click the image to get a URL for JUST the picture. Then copy that URL and paste it into your comment text. In this case the URL is:

    (By having the quotes touch the URL it prevents wordpress from snatching it and putting the picture in)

    I saw a show about grazing and the benefits. Forget what channel… Maybe one of the Discover or Sci… But it was basically showing how grazing improves the land, and how chasing of the cattle causes loss of plants and topsoil. The general theme was surprise and questioning, countered by showing that it worked…

  7. David A says:

    One of the consequences of flushing water down to the ocean to save the smelt , and not releasing it to run in hundreds of miles of open irrigation channels in the lower central valley is that the water table is not replenished. Calif central valley water table was dropping dramatically until many of these irrigation ditches were built in the late 70 or early 80s. Now it must be plunging again, especially since many of the wealthy farmers (unlike those who simply left) installed new wells.

  8. Pouncer says:

    The close up of Nevada pasture land is similar to the God’s Eye View (satellite image) of the Egypt, Sinai, Israel region shown here:

    (note the source is European, not U.S. so let’s not assume the Jewish cabal that supposedly controls US media has photoshopped or otherwise propagandized this image)

    “Egypt’s border with Israel is visible in the image, with the Egyptian side appearing lighter south from the Mediterranean. This is apparently due to higher grazing pressure on the Egyptian side.”

    Sharp, 90 degree corner-shaped border, clearly visible, yes.

    (note the source is European, not U.S. so let’s not assume the Jewish cabal that supposedly controls US media has photoshopped or otherwise propagandized this image)

    Confirmed by a later image, here, visible in the lower left corner:

    ‘In the lower-left corner of the image, we can clearly see the division between Israel and the Gaza Strip not only by the outline of the border, but in the difference in agricultural practices.”

    This contrast on the Sinai USED to be MORE visible, until Jimmy Carter made Begin give Sadat that territory back.

    I recall that Lenin and later Stalin had basically seven consecutive decades of bad weather, drought, under-performing agriculture, famine, starvation, and death due to nothing other than sheer bad luck — according to Marxist analysts.

    Less-Marxists are taking some of the saltiest, most toxic, pools of water on the planet and capitalizing that asset into producing commercially-salable minerals and irrigation water. And of course this can’t even be acknowledged without mention that the Dead Sea has been reshaped by such exploitation, dropping “natural water level” to expose the contours below.

  9. Pingback: More on Middle East Drought, Cold, and California Drought | Musings from the Chiefio

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