Harsh Summer, Wet Winter? A Long Term View of Iraq’s Water Resources

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This report uses open source photography and satellite imagery to observe changes in the level of the Tigris river at Mosul during different stages, looking at historic imagery and dam reservoir activity across a section of the river basin. This project, which arose from a Bellingcat workshop in 2018, followed photographs on social media in Iraq in June 2018 showing alarmingly low levels in the Tigris river, when the river should have been just passing its peak discharge of May-June.
We were interested in seeing whether these levels were unusual for the time of year. The Tigris river has historically had an unpredictable flow regime, partly due to the precipitous course of its tributaries, but it is clear that human activity and climate change have radically altered the characteristics of this river, with clear implications for water management in Iraq. In sum, this is not a case of dry summers and wet winters, but instead seeing a holistic view of a decades-long challenge.
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