Geography 200
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Rare snow storm hits Middle East

Rare snow storm hits Middle East | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
A rare snow storm hit the Middle East last week, producing record snows and extreme conditions for Syrian refugees.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

Weather is an amazing force in the world.  The fact that a rouge weather system could move in and blanket the area in snow is amazing.  Some of the pictures are stunning in their oddness and it is a reminder that Mother Nature can be fickle.

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Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 2014 3:16 PM

I live in New England, so there isn't much to say about an oddball snowstorm. Yes, its weird that it happened randomly in Syria but the fact is that mother nature can surprise us more often than not.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, December 14, 2014 12:22 PM

Many people here in the United States have this mental image of the Middle East being a massive desert with little precipitation and incredibly hot temperatures. The Middle East actually contains diverse landscapes and to an extent, some differing climates, and while snow is incredibly rare in some parts, it is not unheard of. In this instance, the weather anomaly affected numerous Syrian refugees who were unprepared for such an event. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 26, 2015 2:53 PM

Those who resist climate change can only blatantly ignore the facts for so long. "It snowed?! So what?! Doesn't that prove global warming isn't real?!" No. Climate change is irrefutable, evidenced by thousands of bits of data collected across the globe, and irregular weather patterns have plagued vast areas the past decade. Snow in the Middle East? 12-20 inches in Jerusalem? That is extremely alarming- the picture of the camel resting in a field as snow continued to fall around him highlights how ludicrous and odd these weather patterns really are, and yet people continue to deny the severity of the issue, or even the existence of an issue concerning the world's climate. I understand that significant amounts of money are invested in maintaining the status quo and continuing to utilize fossil fuels, but we cannot all breathe money; we need the planet for us to live. Serious efforts must be made by all nations to push through the necessary reforms to stop us from making the problem any worse. I would not be surprised to hear of yet more odd weather patterns in the upcoming winter, and I will not be surprised to still see people ignoring the problem. I hope I'm wrong, though.

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Using Humor to Learn

Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani takes to the TEDxSummit stage in Doha, Qatar to take on serious issues in the Middle East -- like how many kisses to give when saying “Hi,” and what not to say on an American airplane.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This comedian is very funny and he is right middle easterners are not seen t be funny in western media.  It is important to see that everyone like to laugh and that we are all the same.

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Lena Minassian's curator insight, March 22, 2015 3:56 PM

This video was great to watch. I watched this in class and had to write about it. Humor is a great way to shed light on certain topics that can be really heavy. This comedian is middle eastern himself which makes it better for him to talk about these topics. Many individuals don't know the lighter side to middle eastern people just because all they see is negative aspects of the culture. I enjoyed that he could talk about serious topics and have a room full of people not only laughing at it but being educated at the same time. People don't feel like they're being strictly taught because they're watching a comedian give a show. Being middle eastern myself, i found this video great because raising awareness and allowing more insight about the middle east is a powerful thing when it has always has a negative context. 

Jacob Conklin's curator insight, May 6, 2015 4:42 PM

"I never knew these people laughed." This is perhaps one of the most sad things that could be said. It dehumanizes the middle east in a very cruel way. It implies that people in the middle east do not have any sense of humor and are always serious about everything. Like the United States, there are times to be serious, but there are also times to laugh. The media and even the film industry in the US portrays the middle east as Sodom and Gomorra and the people from the area as misogynistic religious fanatics. It is truly sad that we live in a world where prejudices trump openness and acceptance.      

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 2:17 PM

its interesting because this video make the middle east seem more european with the differences in culture. people tend to clump these countries together but they are very different and should be seen that way

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The Golan Heights

The Golan Heights | Geography 200 | Scoop.it

In early November 2012, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of the Golan Heights. The move by Syria is the first violation of the zone in 40 years and concerns countries of the region. Since then some of the Syrian rebels have also been reported operating in Golan Heights.


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article stresses the importance of geography when discussing political situation with neighboring countries.  The fact that the heights are such a strategic advantage to whoever owns them explains why they are so contested.  As long as these two countries are not friendly nations this disagreement over the strategic point will continue.

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Jamie Strickland's curator insight, April 3, 2013 9:10 AM

This map can be used to illustrate not only the political and cultural significance of the Golan Heights, but also its environmental significance as a source of water for the Jordan-Yarmuk River Valley

Louis Culotta's curator insight, April 4, 2013 6:35 PM

Heres some info on how poeple have been living in regards to a troubled area of the world.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 2:26 PM

i never even heard of the Golan Heights before this and i would have never known the significance of this DMZ until now. this just sheds more light on what is happening in syria today.

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Fields of Green Spring up in Saudi Arabia

Fields of Green Spring up in Saudi Arabia | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
Saudi Arabia is drilling for a resource possibly more precious than oil by tapping hidden reserves of water in the Syrian Desert.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article makes underscores the use of water resources in the area.  The need to make the deserts bloom is putting a strain on the ground water resources in this region.  Because of the climate, this water is not a renewable resource and will eventually dry up.  What type of chaos will that cause in 50 years when the estimated time of the resource runs its course?

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Alex Vielman's curator insight, November 23, 2015 3:37 PM

More and more in the news, people have noticed that oil is the hot topic to discuss. Although oil is a very importance economic source, water is a resource that can sustain the population and keep people alive. Saudi Arabia over the years has developed a huge areas of green fields growing in areas of what is Saudi Arabias desert. Saudi Arabia reaches these underground rivers and lakes by drilling through the desert floor, directly irrigating the fields with a circular sprinkler system. This technique is called center-pivot irrigation. This is so important because even if the country has the money to buy resources like food and water, it is developing these agricultural fields which is allowing them to export products such as wheat, dates, dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets around the world. Saudi Arabia can now supply its people with these products that they use to import. This is extremely important to the current development in Saudi Arabia. 

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, December 7, 2015 4:27 PM

Saudi Arabia is a very rich in drilling industry for oil. However many of these fields are green are popping up all over the place as drilling is occuring. Why is this? Well much of the drilling releases water that is trapped within the rocks. This water then flows to the surface where it creates a underground water puddle that keeps the soils moist which in turn allows for greens and other plants to grow. This is more commonly known as water drilling.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 4:08 PM
These random fields of green are coming from the rocks that still have water that is trapped inside them from the last ice age. Saudi Arabia reaches these underground rivers and lakes by drilling through the desert floor, directly irrigating the fields with a circular sprinkler system. This technique is called center-pivot irrigation. Because of low rainfall, they get minimum water each year. Hydrologists estimate water will only be able to be pumped out for 50 years. With water popping up fields of green, a new agricultural economy will appear, maybe farming life and new resources that the country never had for their people, they will now have.
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NYTimes video: "Skateistan"

"Afghan youth have very limited options for sports and recreation. An Australian man is trying to change that."  Issues of ethnicity, class and gender are right on the surface.  Globalization, cultural values and shifting norms make this a good discussion piece.  


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This video is great it shows how one person can make a difference.  The guy was able to bring skateboarding to Afghanistan and help children have an outlet for recreation that they previously did not have.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, November 3, 2014 2:03 PM

This is a good example of the use of soft power in areas where American culture is not popular. Instead of using military force to exert western Ideals on the people of Afghanistan. This Australian may have found a way to close the gap towards bringing our cultures  closer together.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 14, 2014 8:01 PM

In a society that is seen by most of the world as strict and rigid, it was interesting to see these children having fun and breaking the mold of traditional afghan kids. What makes this even more fascinating is that female children are doing some of the skating. With gender issues a hot topic in some Middle Eastern countries, letting kids have fun before being made to conform to tradition is a nice experience for them. While they still respect the culture to they belong to, it is a break from that and a breathe of fresh air for them. These youth are not seen primarily as men and woman, but as children.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:33 AM

Who could have imagined, that Skateboards could be used as a geopolitical tool? Over a decade ago, the United States invaded Afghanistan with the aim of rooting out and destroying the terrorist who attacked the nation on 911. As with most of our military campaigns in the Middle East, the mission quickly became bogged down in a nation building campaign. The people of Afghanistan have long been wary of foreign influence. Empire after empire has attempted to conquer this nation, only to suffer humiliating defeats. For any chance at sustained success, the United States must win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. This skateboard program is a perfect tool in accomplishing that objective. The parks bring all types of youths together in the spirit of fun. They are a unifying factor amongst the youth in Afghanistan.

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Mount Moriah: The most contested real estate on Earth?

Mount Moriah: The most contested real estate on Earth? | Geography 200 | Scoop.it

"Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. Jews and Christians call it the Temple Mount." 

 

What happens when various religious groups claim the same territory as their own?


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article and picture points out just how hard it is to “solve” the problems in Israel.  The constant overlapping of buildings on holy sites complicates the issues more than anything political ever could.  Belief is one of the biggest driving forces for conflict in the world and this illustration reminds us of that.

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Tony Aguilar's curator insight, December 8, 2013 5:38 AM

This site means so much to the Abrahamic religions. Currently the the real estate is mostly contested by Muslims and Jews. There are so many strong feelings that war can break out any time because of The Temple mount. What is left is to wait and see what happens from a poltical statement or even a biblical prophecy stand point. Those who believe in God should beleive that one day true peace will exist in this contested area. Right now with Netanyahu and other leaders a battle is waging for true ownership of the land. As years progress treaties and ceasefires are always modified to soothe the tension that exists in these areas.

Mrs. B's curator insight, February 10, 2014 9:08 AM

#Jerusalem

Tracy Galvin's curator insight, May 4, 2014 1:54 PM

In some of the oldest civilizations on earth, religion is the most important aspect of life. There will always be extreme conflicts in these ancient areas all over religion.

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A parched Syria turned to war, scholar says; Egypt may be next

A parched Syria turned to war, scholar says; Egypt may be next | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
Prof. Arnon Sofer sets out the link between drought, Assad’s civil war, and the wider strains in the Middle East; Jordan and Gaza are also in deep trouble, he warns

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article makes the connection between lower fresh water availability and war.  The argument that as water becomes scares, farmers leave their fields and head to the cities.  The cities are ill-equipped to handle the inflow of people and the greater demand on its water resources creating unrest and discontent.  This is an interesting way of looking at the conflicts in the area.

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Nathan Chasse's curator insight, April 1, 2014 11:25 AM

The article explains how population growth, climate change, drought, and water shortages could have contributed to the rise of war in Syria. This is an interesting interpretation, one which certainly could have been a contributing factor, but not all the Arab Spring can be attributed to water shortages so it is not a direct cause. The water shortages in Syria and a lack of government response certainly could have fanned flames which already existed due to an oppressive regime and regional conflicts. Climate change gets a lot of attention for the potential damage it could do to the environment, but I had not given much thought to the conflicts it could cause between nations and peoples.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 2014 3:22 PM

Egypt may be the next country to be in deep trouble. With so many militant attacks coming out of Egypt to being with there is no surprise that the Middle East thinks it will be next on the list.

Pamela Hills's curator insight, July 18, 2014 8:37 AM

 A world at war and hot spots are growing with people caught in middle <3

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Freshwater Stores Shrank in Tigris-Euphrates Basin

Freshwater Stores Shrank in Tigris-Euphrates Basin | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
An arid region grew even drier between 2003 and 2009 due to human consumption of water for drinking and agriculture.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

The use of water is an increasing problem in the arid regions of the world.  The use of more sophisticated irrigation systems allow for more planting which requires more water.  Coupled with increasing towns and cities needing fresh water for the inhabitants this decrease in fresh water will only continue to trend.

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James Hobson's curator insight, October 22, 2014 6:24 PM

(Southwest Asia topic 2)

The area known as the Cradle of Humanity is becoming less hospitable. Though natural climate change can be attributed to the dryer conditions, humans have made just as much of an impact. Increased water usage leads to less reserve. Impacts stretch further, however. Less water flow below the dam can lead to changes in sedimentation patterns and disrupt wildlife habitats, potentially causing harm to wildlife.

Alex Vielman's curator insight, November 25, 2015 2:09 PM

Similar to the Aral Sea,  the Tigris and Euphrates river basins have become drier and drier between 2003 and 2009. It is important to see all the aspects that have caused the rive to dry out and its do to there own people in this region. About 60 percent of the loss was attributed to the pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs. Most of the problems are due to that about one-fifth of the water losses came from snowpack shrinking and soil drying up, partly in response to a 2007 drought. These could be some of the environmental issues but also there has been tremendous population increases in this region. This water is perfect drinking water for the people of South East Asia and the countries surrounding it but numbers are extremely high. 

It is important to analyze how us humans can change the geography of a certain area in such little time. 

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 4:19 PM

The middle east has lost a huge portion of its freshwater over the past decade. The two natural-color images above were acquired by the Landsat satellites and show the shrinking of the Qadisiyah Reservoir in Iraq between September 7, 2006 and September 15, 2009. The first graph shows the elevation of the water in that reservoir between January 2003 and December 2009. The second graph shows water storage from January 2003 to December 2009. Obtaining ground data information in the middle east can be difficult.The researchers calculated that about one-fifth of the water losses in their Tigris-Euphrates study region came from snowpack shrinking and soil drying up, partly in response to a 2007 drought.

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NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East

NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.

 

"[This] data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws."

 

Tags: water, environment, consumption, resources, environment depend, Middle East, Iraq.


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

Water is a big issue in an arid area.  The fact that we can measure the amount of groundwater present in an area with a satellite is amazing to me.  The issue of water rights and control in this region will someday over take that of oil rights and use in my opinion.  Once people get used to free flowing water to use on demand it will cause problems politically when these sources of ground water inevitably dry up.

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Seth Dixon's curator insight, February 24, 2013 10:00 PM

This is a perfect example of geospatial technologies can lead to a better understanding of how the Earth's physical systems are changing because of human geography.  Teaching geography is about showing how these systems are interconnected.