Lake Tuz in Turkey dries up due to climate change and agricultural policies



Lake Tuz, Turkey’s second largest lake and home to several species of birds, has completely dried up this year.

Water has also declined in several other lakes across Turkey. Experts say lakes are victims of Drought caused by climate change and harmful agricultural policies. They warn that the entire area around the Mediterranean Sea is particularly threatened.

Levent Kurnaz is a scientist at the Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies at the University of Bogazici. He told The Associated Press: “(We have) rising temperatures and falling rains, and on the other hand, the water needs for irrigation in agriculture. It’s a bad situation all over Turkey right now.

For hundreds of years, Lake Tuz has been home to huge groups of flamingos that travel and breed there in warm weather. But this summer, thousands of dead flamingos were found strewn across the dry lake bed.

“There were around 5,000 young flamingos. They all have died because there was no water, ”said Fahri Tunc. It was the wildlife photographer who took pictures of the dead birds. He also heads the local office of a Turkish environmental group. Tunc said: “I hope I will not meet such a scene again.”

Turkish state agency Anadolu reported that a study by Ege University shows that water levels in Tuz Lake began to decline in 2000. The study noted that the lake had dried up this year in due to rising temperatures, increased evaporation and lack of rain. The study also noted a sharp decrease in groundwater levels around Lake Tuz.

Environmental groups say the government’s poor agricultural policies play a major role in the lack of water in Turkey’s lakes.

Farms in the area have started growing profitable but water-intensive crops such as corn, sugar beet, and alfalfa. These crops have depleted groundwater supplies, Tunc said. He added that farmers have dug thousands of unapproved wells, while the rivers feeding the lake have dried up.

Tunc is from Aksaray, a town south of Lake Tuz. He is saddened that he will not be able to enjoy the flamingos with his 7 month old son like he did with his 21 year old son. However, he hopes that Lake Tuz will be able to to fill itself if the government stops water intensive agriculture.

But climatologist Kurnaz is less optimistic. He said, “They keep telling people that they shouldn’t use groundwater for this agriculture and people don’t listen.

Kurnaz noted, “If you don’t pay them enough money, the farmers, they will plant anything that uses a lot of water and earn money for them.

I am Jonathan Evans.

Susan Fraser and Mehmet Guzel reported this story for The Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learn English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in this story

Drought – not. a long period of time when there is very little or no rain

irrigation – not. an act or process of supplying water or cleaning with a flow of liquid

perish – v. self distruct ; to die

scene – not. the location of an event or action

to fill – v. fill or rebuild something



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