As the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Turkey's southeast region appears to be rich with water resources. But a new study indicates that the reality might be quite different. From a release about the study, issued by NASA and the University of California, Irvine:
Scientists at the University of California, Irvine; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.
The findings, to be published Friday, Feb. 15, in the journal Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region. Because obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, are essential. GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries.
The town of Dilovasi, located some 30 kilometers from the eastern boundary of Istanbul, is a major industrial hub, home to some 150 firms, many of them heavy polluters, such as paint petrochemical factories. Recently, local residents woke up to find that a hard-to-remove sticky white substance had fallen on their town. From Bianet:
A new problem has been added to a series of environmental contaminations in the industrial area of Dilovası. The township belongs to the province of Kocaeli at the eastern tip of the Sea of Marmara about 100 km east of Istanbul.
A white sticky substance has been raining down on Dilovası for about one week now. The white precipitation cannot be washed away and has reportedly started to rain down on Hereke, another town in the region, as well on Saturday (12 November)....
....According to an announcement made by the Kocaeli Governor's Office, a sample of the white substance was taken and sent to TÜBİTAK on 9 November for an analysis. The Governor of Kocaeli, Ercan Topaca, said that the factory this substance came from was going to be closed once it would have been determined.
This is not the first time that serious environmental concerns have been raised in Dilovasi. As Eurasianet's Alexander Christie-Miller reported earlier this year, the health dangers posed by the town's industrial activity was the subject of a critical study written by an academic at a nearby university -- who then found himself the subject of a criminal investigation. From Christie-Miller's story: