Turkey’s Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming

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KONYA: For hundreds of years, Lake Tuz in central Turkey has hosted enormous colonies of flamingos that migrate and breed there when the climate is heat, feeding on algae within the lake’s shallow waters.
This summer time, nevertheless, a heart-wrenching scene changed the same old splendid sundown pictures of the birds captured by wildlife photographer Fahri Tunc. Carcasses of flamingo hatchlings and adults scattered throughout the cracked, dried-up lake mattress.
The 1,665 sq. kilometer (643 sq. mile) lake – Turkey’s second-largest lake and residential to a number of hen species – has fully receded this yr. Specialists say Lake Tuz (Salt Lake in Turkish) is a sufferer of local weather change-induced drought, which has hit the area arduous, and a long time of dangerous agricultural insurance policies that exhausted the underground water provide.
“There have been about 5,0000 younger flamingos. All of them perished as a result of there was no water,” mentioned Tunc, who additionally heads the regional department of the Turkish environmental group Doga Dernegi. “It was an extremely dangerous scene. It is not one thing I can erase from my life. I hope I don’t come throughout such a scene once more.”
A number of different lakes throughout Turkey have equally dried up or have receded to alarming ranges, affected by low precipitation and unsustainable irrigation practices. Local weather consultants warn that your complete Mediterranean basin, which incorporates Turkey, is especially liable to extreme drought and desertification.
In Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake, situated within the nation’s east, fishing boats now not may method a dock final week after the water fell to uncommon ranges, HaberTurk tv reported.
“(We have now) rising temperatures and reducing rain, and on the opposite aspect, the water wants for irrigation in agriculture,” mentioned Levent Kurnaz, a scientist at Bogazici College’s Heart for Local weather Change and Coverage Research. “It is a dangerous scenario throughout Turkey for the time being.”
A examine primarily based on satellite tv for pc imagery performed by Turkey’s Ege College exhibits that water ranges at Lake Tuz began to drop starting in 2000, based on Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Company. The lake fully receded this yr as a result of rising temperatures, intensified evaporation and inadequate rain, based on the examine.
The examine additionally famous a pointy decline in underground water ranges round Lake Tuz, a hypersaline lake that straddles the Turkish provinces of Ankara, Konya and Aksaray.
The Konya basin in central Anatolia, which incorporates Lake Tuz, was as soon as often known as Turkey’s breadbasket. Farms within the area have turned to rising worthwhile however water-intensive crops similar to corn, sugar-beet and alfalfa, which have drained groundwater provides, photographer Tunc mentioned. Farmers have dug 1000’s of unlicensed wells whereas streams feeding the lake have dried up or been diverted, he mentioned.
Environmental teams say poor authorities agricultural insurance policies play a major position within the deterioration of Turkey’s lakes.
“When you do not pay them sufficient cash, the farmers, they may plant no matter is water intensive and can earn cash for them. And when you simply inform them it is not allowed, then they will not vote for you within the subsequent election,” Kurnaz mentioned.
The overuse of groundwater can also be making the area extra vulnerable to the formation of sinkholes. Dozens of such depressions have been found round Konya’s Karapinar district, together with one which Related Press journalists noticed subsequent to a newly harvested alfalfa subject.
Tunc, 46, a local of Aksaray, is saddened by the thought that he will not be capable of benefit from the flamingos together with his 7-month-old son like he did together with his 21-year-old son. He stays hopeful, nevertheless, that Lake Tuz might replenish itself, if the federal government stops the water-intensive agriculture.
Kurnaz, the local weather scientist, is much less optimistic.
“They hold telling those who they should not use groundwater for this agriculture and persons are not listening. There are about 120,000 unlicensed wells within the area, and everyone is pumping out water as if that water will final ceaselessly,” Kurnaz mentioned.
“However in case you are on a flat place, it might rain as a lot as you need and it will not replenish the groundwater in a short while. It takes possibly 1000’s of years in central Anatolia to replenish the underground water desk,” he added.
The drought and flamingo deaths at Lake Tuz have been simply certainly one of a sequence of ecological disasters to strike Turkey this summer time, believed to be partly as a result of local weather change.
In July, wildfires devastated swaths of forests alongside Turkey’s southern coast, killing eight folks and forcing 1000’s to flee. Components of the nation’s northern Black Beach have been struck by floods that killed 82 folks. Earlier, a layer of sea mucilage, blamed on hovering temperatures and poor waste administration, lined the Sea of Marmara, threatening marine life.
Though Turkey was among the many first nations to signal the 2015 Paris local weather settlement, the nation held off ratifying it till this month because it sought to be reclassified as a growing nation as a substitute of a developed one to keep away from harsher emission discount targets. Turkish lawmakers issued a declaration rejecting the standing of developed nation on the identical time they ratified the local weather settlement.
Within the city of Eskil, close to the shores of Lake Tuz, farmer Cengiz Erkol, 54, checked the irrigation system on his subject rising animal feed.
The waters aren’t operating as sturdy and considerable as they used to,” he mentioned.
I’ve 4 kids. The longer term would not look good. Every year is worse than the earlier yr, Erkol mentioned.

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