Climate change and the associated drought risk pose a greater challenge to Turkey in the future, although it is not ringing alarm bells right now. Agriculture and Forestry Deputy Minister Akif Özkaldı told a parliamentary committee that the projections were grim for the country for the next century. “Without precautions, 200 days of heat waves will be common, especially in southern and eastern Turkey,” he told the committee tasked with investigating the impact of global climate change on Thursday.
An unusually dry winter aggravated drought concerns in the country, though the abundant precipitation that followed the dry spell alleviated water shortage woes. Still, experts say sooner or later, the country will have to face the reality that precipitation will become scarcer due to climate change.
Özkaldı told the parliamentary committee that temperatures would increase 1 to 2 degrees in the future and the highest rise in temperatures would be in southern and western regions, in the summer. He said projections also showed a general decline in overall precipitation, particularly in eastern, western and southern regions. Other projections that are expected to take place in the coming decades include a drop in snowfall that will trigger further water stress, including water deficits for the main basins in southeastern and eastern Turkey and Konya in central Turkey, while water excess is expected for the northeastern and northwestern basins.
Özkaldı said Turkey had a semi-arid climate and that water use was 1,347 cubic meters per year. “We have 112 billion cubic meters of water annually. We are among the water-stressed countries. Under current circumstances, we expect water shortages in nine basins,” he said. Özkaldı noted that the growing population put further pressure on water resources.
He indicated that precipitation would be scarce, especially in winter and higher temperatures would melt snow earlier, triggering water scarcity in the spring and summer.
Drought, along with the irresponsible use of underground water, has already taken its toll on Meke, a lake in the central province of Konya that has the nickname “amulet of the world” because of its unique shape with a giant volcanic cone in the middle.
The lake is almost completely dried up and authorities hope to revive its former glory by filling it with water from a wastewater purification plant and from another lake. Under a new plan, some 2.5 million cubic meters of water will be transferred to the lake yearly. The lake, which has a history dating back to 5 million years ago, was the result of the accumulation of water in a crater. A second explosion of the volcano that created the crater 9,000 years ago gave it its latest shape. The saltwater lake was filled with underground water for a long time. Since the early 2000s, a lingering drought and farmers draining the lake to irrigate their vast fields diminished the water levels. A project initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning aims to bring the water level to at least 1 meter by adding water to the massive crater again.
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