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Alarming water loss in Middle East, NASA study says

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Jan. 9, 2013: A couple looks at water flowing into the Dead Sea during a flash flood near Kibbutz Ein Gedi.REUTERS

A NASA study found that an amount of freshwater almost the size of the Dead Sea has been lost in parts of the Middle East due to poor management, increased demands for groundwater and the effects of a 2007 drought.

The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from 2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites. Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet of its total stored freshwater.

About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water and another fifth due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs.