Just in case you weren’t quite sure whether we were in the end times, now we learn that the Euphrates river is drying up.
I think it’s clear to many Christians that we are in the end-times, but is a vial being poured out by the sixth angel?
In Revelation 16:12, it is prophesied that the Euphrates will dry up in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon: “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”
The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.
The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, …
Warnings of severe water shortages in the Middle East
- Nasa study shows 144 cubic kilometers of stored water lost in Middle East
- Water lost through poor management, increased demand, and drought
- Affected areas include Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran in Tigris/Euphrates basin
PUBLISHED: 13:32, 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:02, 13 February 2013
Vast freshwater reserves nearly equivalent in size to the Dead Sea have been lost in the Middle East in the last decade, according to a new Nasa study.
Scientists warn there could be severe water shortages in decades to come if water resources are not managed better in the region.
They say the precious water stocks have gone because of poor water management, increased demands for groundwater, and a major drought in 2007.
The study, which will be published later this week, examined 2003 to 2010 data from two gravity-measuring satellites which are part of Nasa’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).
Scientists used GRACE satellites rather than ground-based research because of the difficulty of obtaining data on the ground in the regions covered.
The satellites showed that freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had decreased by 117m acre feet, or 144 cubic kilometres over seven years.
‘GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on earth after India,’ said Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the study.
He added: ‘Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.’
About 60 per cent of the water went as a result of pumping underground reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another 20 per cent was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs and soil drying up.
Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found.
‘This rate of water loss is among the largest liquid freshwater losses on the continents,’ the authors wrote in the study, noting the declines were most obvious after a drought.
The study will be published on Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
It is the latest evidence of a worsening water crisis in the Middle East, where demands from growing populations, war and the effects of climate change are raising the prospect that some countries could face severe water shortages in the decades to come.
Some, like impoverished Yemen, blame their water woes on the semi-arid conditions and the grinding poverty, while the oil-rich Gulf faces water shortages mostly due to the economic boom that has created glistening cities out of the desert.
In a report released during the UN climate talks in Qatar, the World Bank concluded among the most critical problems in the Middle East and North Africa will be worsening water shortages.
The region already has the lowest amount of freshwater in the world.
Scientists say that with climate change, droughts in the region are expected to turn more extreme. Water runoff is expected to decline 10 per cent by 2050, while demand for water is expected to increase 60 per cent by 2045.
One of the biggest challenges to improving water conservation is often competing demands which has worsened the problem in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins.
Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, as well as the reservoirs and infrastructure of Turkey’s Greater Anatolia Project, which dictates how much water flows downstream into Syria and Iraq, the researchers said.
With no coordinated water management between the three countries, tensions have intensified since the 2007 drought because Turkey continues to divert water to irrigate farmland.
‘That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq,’ Kate Voss, lead author of the study and a water policy fellow with the University of California’s Center for Hydrological Modeling in Irvine, said.
‘Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater. In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation.’
Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the new study and a hydrologist and UC Irvine professor of Earth System Science, plans to visit the region later this month, along with Voss and two other UC Irvine colleagues, to discuss their findings and raise awareness of the problem and the need for a regional approach to solve the problem.
‘They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they’re in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change,’ he said.
‘Those dry areas are getting dryer. They and everyone else in the world’s arid regions need to manage their available water resources as best they can