Data from a pair of NASA satellites indicates that the Middle East has rapidly lost reserves of freshwater, according to a release from the agency. The Tigris and Euphrates river basins alone lost an amount of freshwater equivalent to the volume of the Dead Sea from 2003 to 2010.
NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites were used to collect data on the region because ground-based observing there is difficult. The satellites periodically recorded gravity’s pull in different areas, which could accurately measure water loss because changes in water reserves influenced Earth’s mass, causing gravity’s attraction to change.
Scientists at the University of California – Irvine, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Center for Atmospheric Research contributed to the study, which has been published in the journal Water Resources Research.
Image: A map indicating the severity of freshwater losses in the Middle East (Credit: NASA/UC Irvine/NCAR)