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Dust and Desertification in Iraq

33.9N 43.2E

May 19th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Dust Storms, Rivers

Iraq – May 19th, 2013

Some dust blows over the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley in Iraq. Iraq suffers from desertification and soil salination due in large part to thousands of years of agricultural activity. Water and plant life are sparse. Saddam Hussein’s government water-control projects drained the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting streams and rivers.

The marshlands were a fine and extensive natural wetlands ecosystem which developed over thousands of years in the Tigris–Euphrates basin and once covered 15–20,000 square kilometers. Between 84% and 90% of the marshes have been destroyed since the 1970s. In 1994, 60 percent of the wetlands were destroyed by Hussein’s regime – drained to permit military access and greater political control of the native Marsh Arabs.

The drying of the marshes led to the disappearance of the salt-tolerant vegetation; the plankton rich waters that fertilized surrounding soils; 52 native fish species; the wild boar, red fox, buffalo and water birds of the marsh habitat.

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