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Turkey’s Lake Van shrinks due to climate crisis that fuels water retreat
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Turkey’s Lake Van shrinks due to climate crisis that fuels water retreat

A view of Lake Van and its coast amid a drought, in Van, eastern Turkey, Dec. 12, 2021. (PHOTO BY UĞUR YILDIRIM)


For first-time visitors to Lake Van, the cracked land around it may seem like a natural geographical feature. It is actually the latest sign for a national trend. DroughtClimate crisis has worsened the situation. The severe drought is affecting a wider basin, which includes Turkey’s largest lake as well as other water resources. The water levels are falling due to lower precipitation and higher temperatures. Some areas saw water levels drop by 3 meters (nearly ten feet) while others saw water levels drop to 10 kilometers (nearly four miles) elsewhere.

A view of Lake Van and its coast amid a drought, in Van, eastern Turkey, Dec. 12, 2021. (PHOTO BY UĞUR YILDIRIM)
A view of Lake Van and its coastline in the midst of drought, in Van (east Turkey), Dec. 12, 2021. (PHOTO BY UĞUR YILDIRIM)

Microbialites, sedimentary deposits that have been formed over thousands of year, are the best indicators of the extent of the disaster. These are ancient rocksThe saline soda lake was previously only visible to divers at the bottom. Now, the sandstone protrudes on dry land, providing photographers with a stunning opportunity and fueling concerns about the lake’s future. Satellite photos of the saline soda lakes fed by small streams that descend from nearby mountains clearly show the changes. Experts warn that the drought is a serious problem for the basin.

A view of microbialites in Lake Van that emerged from the bottom due to the decline in water levels, in Van, eastern Turkey, Dec. 12, 2021. (PHOTO BY UĞUR YILDIRIM)
A view of Lake Van’s microbioites, which emerged from the bottom following the decline in water levels. Van, eastern Turkey. December 12, 2021. (PHOTO BY UĞUR YILDIRIM)

Professor Mustafa Akkuş, of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University’s Faculty of Fisheries, warned that the drought’s impact on the lake will only worsen. “We need to manage water properly to save Van and other lakes that are doomed to drought. He stressed the need for a sustainable and correct water policy.

Turkey, despite being surrounded by oceans, suffers water stress and authorities are working to address it. Akkuş said Lake Van is more fragile compared to other bodies of water. “All lakes and rivers in the country suffered from a decrease in water levels due lack of precipitation. He noted that Lake Van is in a closed basin with no outlet to other areas. “There is a dynamic balance. Van only gets water from precipitation. Evaporation is the only way to get water. In recent years, the lengthening of the summer season and shorter winters has resulted in a decrease in water availability. Accordingly, evaporation is more intense,” he explained, noting that for each unit of water that the lake gained, it lost approximately “three units” of water.

Climate change may be the main culprit, but it is not the factor, Akkuş added. “We don’t have a healthy policy on water. You can’t intervene in drought quickly and eradicate it, but a sustainable policy on water will help us recover from it.

Experts attribute the severe consequences of drought to inefficient irrigation methods that waste water. Turkey strives for Promote newer methodsDrip irrigation can be used to conserve the resource. Akkuş says water levels were dropping year by year as the number of cultivated fields around the lake increased. “We have to stop growing crops that require high amounts of water for growth. Every field placed along the banks of streams is a drainer. We are experiencing water scarcity yet we continue to grow crops which require water. Many of these crops are irrigated with sprinklers and waste water. It is time to end uncontrolled irrigation. He stated that every drop of water must be valued as gold and should shape policies accordingly. Akkuş also called for measures to Rainwater should not be wasted.

The four stages of drought are: meteorological, hydrological and agricultural. The first three were experienced, and the fourth will follow. In fact, we already see the effects of socioeconomic drought on farmers’ losses. The ongoing drought has caused the FarmersThey will not be able earn much from their crops. He warned that failure to implement sustainable water management will result in job losses for thousands of farmers and will eventually lead to greater problems.”

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