Lakes are drying up and experts often issue warnings of a long dry spell in the future, nonetheless, this winter Turkey apparently returned to the good old days of heavy rain and snow. As climate change drastically affects weather, triggering new disasters and aggravating the overall meteorological impact, Turkey had a positive winter in terms of weather. Precipitation increased by 13%, compared to average rain and snowfall over the decades while in comparison to the winter of 2021, it saw a rise of 36%.
The average precipitation in Turkey stood at 20.53 centimeters (8.08 inches) according to the Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS). Last year there was 17.14 centimeters of precipitation on average while this winter the figure rose to 23.29 centimeters. On a regional level, precipitation increased by more than 40% in western regions, particularly in Izmir and neighboring provinces, in the north of the Aegean region and all across Trakya (Thrace) in the northwest. However, it dropped more than 40% in some parts of provinces of Konya, Eskişehir, Çankırı, Çorum, Amasya, Kastamonu, Gümüşhane, Bayburt, Şanlıurfa, Mardin and Artvin.
The highest rate of precipitation this year was in the Mediterranean province of Antalya which saw 62.1 centimeters while the eastern province of Iğdır experienced the lowest at 5 centimeters. Overall, Kocaeli in the northwest and Muğla in the southwest had the highest precipitation in the west while Karaman and Eskişehir had the highest and lowest precipitation rate in central Turkey. In the Black Sea region, known for its rainy weather, Rize had the highest rate of precipitation while Gümüşhane had the least precipitation. In eastern Turkey, Tunceli ranked first among provinces with the highest rate of snow or rainfall. Data by TSMS shows precipitation increased in all regions, except the arid east.
Though home to an array of climates, Turkey is mostly a semi-arid country, something especially risky in the era of climate change for agricultural lands concentrated in Anatolia that are far from the mild climate of the country's western regions. It juggles its response to weather-related issues aggravated by the climate crisis, from floods in coastal areas to aggressive droughts in inner regions. An increasingly arid future awaits Turkey if it doesn't get a handle on its water consumption soon, and it runs the risk of being classified as a water-scarce country by 2030, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey had warned last year.
Dr. Güven Özdemir, a meteorology expert from Istanbul Aydın University, says the precipitation this year has been “good” so far and that the dams have been filled but issued a warning about the future. Özdemir told Anadolu Agency (AA) Friday that water needs to be consciously consumed to prevent a potential water shortage in the summer. Özdemir noted that now all regions were exposed to high precipitation and the situation is especially precarious for agriculture in the southeastern regions. “Without precipitation in April and May, unfortunately, we may lapse into a dry period. In the spring, we will see weather patterns hailing from the deserts of other countries,” he warned.
He ruled out an immediate drought or water shortage risk, especially for Istanbul, the country's most populated city with more than 15 million people. “Dams supplying Istanbul have a capacity of 860 million cubic meters and currently, they have 730 million cubic meters of water. But Istanbul consumes too much water. We have to act cautiously in water use,” he said. Özdemir also lamented the rise in the number of residential areas near dams and the lack of wooded areas. “The public should be aware that the drought can come under any circumstances and take their own measures,” he said. Özdemir also highlighted the importance of saving rainwater. “Even a drop of water falling from the eaves should not go waste. Water cisterns, storage units should be used to collect the rainwater for use in daily needs, such as watering lawns or washing cars. This practice may serve as an additional, individual dam for each person,” he said.
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