Study Reveals Climate Change as Leading Cause of Devastating Drought in Syria, Iraq and Iran

A recent study has found that the three-year drought in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, which has caused water scarcity for millions of people, is a result of human-caused climate change. According to the study by World Weather Attribution, the drought, which began in July 2020, is due to higher-than-normal temperatures that are causing increased evaporation of rainfall.

Lead author Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College of London, emphasized that without the 1.2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures since the mid-19th century, the drought would not have occurred at all. The study concludes that climate change has intensified naturally dry conditions into a humanitarian crisis, leaving people thirsty, hungry, and displaced.

The research, which is still awaiting peer review, used scientifically valid techniques to identify the effects of global warming. Computer simulations showed that the reduced rainfall did not have significant climate change fingerprints, but the evaporation of water due to spiked temperatures was much higher than it would have been without climate change.

The study also calculated that the drought conditions in Syria and Iraq are 25 times more likely due to climate change, while in Iran, they are 16 times more likely. This finding was supported by Kelly Smith, assistant director of the U.S. National Drought Mitigation Center, who was not part of the study.

Furthermore, the research highlighted that conflict in the region, including Syria’s civil war, has made the area more vulnerable to drought due to degraded infrastructure and weakened water management.

The study’s co-author, Rana El Hajj of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in Lebanon, emphasized that this drought is already pushing people to their limits of adaptation. Friederike Otto warned that as long as fossil fuels continue to be burned and new licenses are issued for oil and gas exploration, these extreme events will only worsen and continue to destroy livelihoods, keeping food prices high.

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