Monday, March 22, 2010

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

In this week's Science, John Bohannon discusses the dilemma faced by Egypt as the Nile delta sinks. With the strong likelihood of the Mediterranean rising as the climate changes, the options available to Egypt are few and costly. Egypt constructed the massive Aswan High Dam in 1960, with the help of the Soviet Union.
The article says:
Today, 30% of the land is less than a meter above sea level, and in some areas close to the Mediterranean coast, it is sinking by nearly a centimeter per year.

At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea is expected to rise as a result of global warming. If the sea level increases by a meter by 2050, which is in the range of mainstream predictions, one-third of the delta could be lost. Meanwhile, the population here is growing by a million people per year—the delta is already home to 50 million, most crammed into an area no bigger than the state of Delaware. Because of these perfect storm conditions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 named the Nile Delta among the three areas most vulnerable to climate change. "If we continue with business as usual, the impact on the delta will be devastating," says Mounir Tabet, director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt.
Read the full article here. (Subscription might be required)

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