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Climate-Change Impacts on Israel and the Middle East

Israeli Climate-Change Forecasts for the Year 2100

  • Mean temperature increase of between 1.6° and 1.8° C.
  • Reduction in precipitation between 4 and 8 percent; increased rain intensity; and changes in rainfall patterns.
  • Increase in evapotranspiration by nearly 10 percent.
  • Greater seasonal temperature variability.
  • More severe weather events, such as droughts and floods.
  • Mediterranean biomes expected to shift 300 to 500 km northward; if a 1.5º C warming were to occur, which could mean that Mediterranean ecosystems in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan would become more desert-like.
  • Some models predict as much as a 50 percent reduction in mean annual precipitation in the Jordan River Basin.

 

Environmental Effects of Climate Change on the Middle East

  • Severe water shortages.
  • More severe weather events, such as droughts and floods.
  • Desertification, loss of arable land.
  • Shifting of ecosystems, species loss.
  • Coral reef bleaching.
  • Increase in jellyfish population.

Socioeconomic Effects of Climate Change on Middle East

  • Severe water shortages.
  • Agricultural losses.
  • Migration in search of resources.
  • Refugees from inundated lands.
  • Economic crisis

 

Political Ramifications

  • Increased tension between countries sharing water resources.
  • Difficulties for governments to provide for their country’s needs, leading to internal instability and a likelihood of failed states.
  • “Exacerbated marginal living conditions foster extremist and radical ideologies and conflicts.” — U.S. Army Gen. Anthony Zinni

 

Security Implications

  • Fewer water resources available for existing peace agreements.
    • More difficult to comply with Jordan River water sharing arrangement (50 mcm/pa).
    • More difficult to comply with Yarmouk River water-sharing arrangements (27 mcm/pa).
    • Palestinian future needs recognized as 70 to 80 mcm/pa. In a final agreement, Palestinian demands will be higher.
  • Fewer water resources available for future agreements.
    • Lebanon will want to share water from the Jordan River tributaries.
    • Syria will want to share water from the Jordan River and sources of the Sea of Galilee.
  • Less rainfall impacts the economy.
    • Palestinian Authority economy heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture for income and employment.
    • Jordan Valley bread basket of Jordanian food production and rural support backbone of Kingdom’s political stability.
    • Israeli agricultural lobby powerful across political divide.
  • Rising sea levels will impact the coastal aquifer beneath Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
    • Further increase salinity of drinking water for Gaza.
    • Further contamination of the coastal aquifer.

 

 

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Source: Israel’s First National Communication on Climate Change, submitted under COP 6: The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, held Nov. 13 — 25, 2000 in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

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