Study Links Syria Conflict to Drought Made Worse by Climate Change

Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.

The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and in a study published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increases in greenhouse-gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors: a weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation.

Mark A. Cane, an author of the study and a scientist at Lamont-Doherty, which is part of Columbia University, defended the work. “I think there’s a really good case here,” he said. “But I think we’ve tried to explain that the connection from an extraordinary climate event to conflict is complex and certainly involves other factors.”

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The New York Times