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Monitoring and Predicting Agricultural DroughtA Global Study$
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Vijendra K. Boken, Arthur P. Cracknell, and Ronald L. Heathcote

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162349

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195162349.001.0001

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Monitoring Agricultural Drought in the Near East

Monitoring Agricultural Drought in the Near East

Chapter Sixteen (p.208) Monitoring Agricultural Drought in the Near East
Monitoring and Predicting Agricultural Drought

Eddy De Pauw

Oxford University Press

The countries of North Africa and West Asia, hereafter referred to as the “Near East,” cover a large part of the world (more than 7,200,000 km2). This region is characterized by diverse but generally dry climates, in which evaporation exceeds precipitation. The level of aridity is indicated by the aridity index, the ratio of annual precipitation to annual potential evapotranspiration, calculated by the Penman method (UNESCO, 1979). The degree of aridity is shown spatially in figure 16.1 and summarized per country in table 16.1. These data show that the region is characterized by humid, subhumid, semiarid, and arid to hyperarid moisture regimes. In addition, temperature regimes vary considerably, particularly due to the differences in altitudes and, to a lesser extent, due to the oceanic/continental influences. For most of the region, the precipitation generally occurs during the October–April period and thus is concentrated over the winter season. Table 16.1 shows that, with more than 90% of the land area in hyperarid, arid, or semiarid moisture regimes, aridity is very significant in the Near East. Turkey is better endowed with surface and groundwater resources due to the orographic capture of Atlantic cyclonal precipitation, but much of the interior is semiarid. If one excludes the hyperarid zones, which cover the driest deserts and have no potential for agricultural use, nearly 34% of the region, or about 2,460,000 km2, is dryland (i.e., the area with arid or semiarid moisture regime). These are the areas with some potential for either dryland farming (in semiarid zones) or for extensive rangeland (in arid zones). In the Near East countries, agriculture contributes about 10–20% to the gross domestic product and is therefore a major pillar of their economies. However, the indirect importance of agriculture is larger because it provides the primary goods that constitute the majority of merchandise exports and because of the relatively high number of people employed in agriculture. Because of the high degree of aridity in large parts of the region, agriculture in the Near East is particularly vulnerable to drought. Most of the agricultural systems depend on rainfall.

Keywords:   Aridity, Near East, Crisis control, Near East, Drought management, Near East, Morocco, barley production

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