Mesopotamian fertile crescent nearly gone, new study indicates

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Abstract

Something is terribly amiss in the marshlands of the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow, and where Gilgamesh, the hero of an epic that dates at least as far back as the third millennium B.C., ruled.

The marshlands, which are located primarily in Iraq and once extended between 15,000 and 20,000 square kilometers, now have been reduced to less than 1,500 to 2,000 square kilometers, according to a new study issued May 18 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The marshlands could disappear in the near future if no immediate corrective actions are taken, according to Hassan Partow, the principal author of the UNEP study and a scientist within the agency's division of early warning and assessment.

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