UN: Danger to Near East Climate

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has released a report (PDF) at their March 5-8 Cairo conference that has warned of danger to the Middle East, Asia Minor and North Africa due to climate change (referred to, collectively, in the report, as the 'Near East Region'):

Photo: Ship stranded in the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

The number of dry days is conjectured to increase everywhere in the region, with the exception of some central- Saharan areas. The number of frost days should decrease everywhere, while heat waves could increase in the Region’s more continental areas. The length of growing seasons (LGSs) should decrease. ~snip~

In all scenarios, the highest impacts are in Africa, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Once temperatures increase by 3°C, 250 to 550 million additional people may be at risk worldwide – more than half in Africa and Western Asia – particularly where the declines in yield are greatest, dependence on agriculture highest and purchasing power most limited. Yields of the key crops across Africa and Western Asia may fall 15 to 35 percent.

The report raises concern for the entire region, decreased precipitation for areas that have already experienced drought, along with increased precipitation in other areas: "Heavy precipitation events and an increase in the proportion of total rainfall that comes from heavy events are “very likely”, and it is “likely” that more areas will be affected by droughts and tropical cyclones." The picture is one of an impact, region-wide, of increasing instability that will lead to a decline in agriculture in a region already beset by hunger and troubling geopolitics.

According to four models, groundwater recharge will decrease dramatically – by more than 70 percent – between now and 2050 along the southern rim of the Mediterranean. [...] Shifts in precipitation patterns will affect crops, particularly rice, in many countries in the Near East Region. According to one study, temperature rises of 2°C will result in 1 to 4 billion people experiencing growing water shortages, predominantly in Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America.

The report warns that, if emissions continue unabated, the risks would widen to mass migration and conflict and details the anticipated climate impact by country:


Vulnerable sectors and possible impacts of climate change

Common climate-related disasters


Access to safe drinking water may worsen.6

Landslides (2006), floods


Vulnerable to natural hazards such as floods and drought.7

Floods (1969)


Decrease in water resources. Projected rise of the Caspian Sea level. Winter pastures may be negatively affected.8

Floods (1995)


Low-lying areas of the country’s islands vulnerable to sea level rise9



Sea level rise vulnerability index10=6

Damage on marine environment. More frequent, intense and longer droughts and heat waves. Water stress.11

windstorms (1969), extreme temperatures


Sea level rise vulnerability index=0.37

Ground water recharge may be affected. Increased risk of floods and other extreme events.12

Floods (1989), drought


Reduced productivity of crops and increased water requirements.

Heavily populated Nile Delta vulnerable to sea level rise.13

Sea level rise vulnerability index=0.15

Floods (1994), windstorms


Change in length of growth period and number of freezing days.14

Damage from intense cyclones originating in Arabian Sea.15

Drought (1999), floods


Possible impacts on Tigris-Euphrates stream flow.16

Increasing irrigation demand.17

Drought (1969), floods


Increasing irrigation demand.18

Possible rainfall decrease adds additional stress to already scarce water resources.19

Drought (1999), floods, windstorms, high temperatures


Spring wheat decreases, winter wheat increases, with overall net decrease projected.

Rangelands changes project decrease in wool production.20

Glacier decreasing in northern Tien Shan.21

Extreme temperatures (1997), floods, wildfires


Low coastal areas vulnerable to sea level rise.

Storm surges affect coastal oil production.22

Floods (1997)


Decreased cropland for cereals.23

Glacier decreasing in northern Tien Shan.24

Landslides (1994), windstorms, floods


Increased stresses on water resources. Shift of arable area to more arid climate zone. Negative impacts on citrus, olive, apple and sugar beet production.25

Windstorms (1992), floods


Recurring droughts and dependence on rainfed agriculture. Possible desertification of Jifara Plain in northwest. 26



Shorter rainy season will decrease crop production.27

Sea level rise vulnerability index=507



Decreased water resources. Dependence on water originating outside border.

Degradation of arable land.

Degradation of pasture and loss of livestock.28

Drought (1980), floods


Ouergha watershed will likely see changes in runoff.29

Sea level rise vulnerability index=0.24


Seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers30

Storm surges affect coastal oil production.31

Decreasing groundwater level.

Windstorms (2007)


Changes in growing season length affect wheat production. Decreased wheat yield projection is possible.32

Glacier extent affects Indus River basin.33

Glaciers in Himalayas will recede.34

Floods (1992), drought, windstorms


Increasing water stress.

Storm surges affect coastal oil production.35


Saudi Arabia

Water stress will increase due to warmer temperature.36

Floods (2003), windstorms


Food shortage may worsen under warmer temperature and extreme weather events.

Floods (1997), drought, ocean surges


Decreased precipitation and increased temperature and evaporation will lead to reduced groundwater recharge. Water stress will increase.

Dependence on water originating outside border.

Projected decrease of millet and sorghum.37

Drought (1991), floods, Desertification of arable areas, arable zone shifts southward.


Possible impacts on Tigris-Euphrates stream flow.38

Increasing irrigation demand.39

Drought (1999), floods, windstorms, land slides


Hydropower generation could be affected.40

Decrease of glaciers and ice cover. Changing temperature and rainfall pattern could negatively affect agriculture.41

Floods (2004)


Mediterranean coastline vulnerable to sea level rise. Increased water stress. 42

Floods (1979), drought


Decreasing stream flow continues in western basins.43

Possible impacts on Tigris-Euphrates stream flow.44

Flood (1998)


Increase water requirement for cotton and wheat. Reducing glacier threatens river water availability.45

Flood (1993)


Seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers46

Storm surges affect coastal oil production.47



High temperatures and water deficit may have negative impact on crops and pasture vegetation productivity, and livestock.48

Rainfall increase may lead to occurrence of flash floods.

Reduction in snow and ice reserves reduces water availability.49

Floods (2005), Landslides


Risk of desertification. Increasing irrigation demand.50

Floods (1982), drought

The report concludes with recommendations for water management, changes in agricultural practices and the necessity for emissions mitigation as outlined by the IPCC.

Here's the link to the FAO Report.