Washington, April 22 : Egypt's ancient cities are being threatened by rising water levels in the Mediterranean Sea, which scientists say will rise between one and three feet by the end of this century, all because of climate change.According to a report by NPR (National Public Radio), an example of this threat is the slow breakdown of the barriers that line Alexandria, Egypt's Eastern Harbor.
All of Egypt's large cities lie along the Nile, which supports fertile land amid the desert landscape, a fact that makes it imperative that the rising water levels is bound to affect vegetation and farming in the region. Scientists have predicted that rural towns and urban areas along Egypt's northern coast will be flooded, turning millions of people into environmental refugees and threatening some of the country's ancient landmarks, many of which are underwater.
"One of the issues we are facing is not just the sea level rising, but the violence in the sea and the waves affecting the corniche, the wall surrounding the Eastern Harbor," said Emad Khalil, an underwater archeologist at the University of Southhampton in the United Kingdom.
Though Alexandria's residents might not notice the change, but according to rural farmers, they are already living with the consequences as salty water from the rising Mediterranean pushes into the fertile Nile Delta and contaminates the groundwater used to irrigate crops.
According to Salah Soliman, a professor at the Department of Pesticide Chemistry and Toxicology at Alexandria University, the Nile used to add soil to Egypt every year. But the Aswan High Dam, built in 1970, has prevented the river from depositing sediments.
Erosion, combined with the rising sea level, sends saltwater under the rich, fertile soil south of the Nile Delta. When the water evaporates, the salt remains, making it almost impossible to grow crops.
"Now with climate change, we are losing what we have gained over the last many thousand years," said Soliman. "Water is coming from the sea toward the southern part of the delta and affecting vegetation and farmers," he added.
According to Egypt's Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, Maged George, predicts that by the year 2020, the effects of global warming will threaten about 15 percent of the land in the Nile Delta.
In lieu of this, the Egyptian government is preparing a strategy to adapt to the threat.
It is considering proposals such as relocating the population, introducing genetically modified crops and building barriers to protect the lowlands.