Helping preserve the Gulf of Aqaba in the face of global climate change

Chapters :

Background

The Gulf of Aqaba

The Gulf of Aqaba, located to the east of the Sinai Peninsula, is of high economic importance due to the tourist industry attracted to the Gulf for its coral reef and diverse animal and plant life.  In recent years, however, there has been growing evidence that the reefs, animal and plant life in the Gulf of Aqaba have been declining.  If this situation is left to deteriorate further, there could be a negative effect on the economy, which in turn could threaten the stability and security of the region.
 
A NATO Science for Peace and Security project was initiated in January 2007 to study and predict changes that take place in the Gulf in order to provide end users with warning signals to preempt the necessary remedial actions.

What is being done

Joint Israeli-Jordanian research cruise in the Gulf of Aqaba

This project is establishing an effective collaboration between two of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue Partners, Israel and Jordan, with NATO country Turkey in the leadIsrael and Jordan have identified marine environmental protection and management of water as priorities under the Science for Peace and Security framework.

Another important objective of this project is to establish a permanent Jordanian-Israeli task force that will focus on the protection of the Gulf of Aqaba, with the possibility to be expanded to include Egypt.

Analysis of water samples from the Gulf of Aqaba

Through NATO funding, the teams are able to carry out monthly water monitoring cruises, including some joint expeditions with Israeli and Jordanian scientists going out in the same research vessel.  The scientists collect water samples and conduct underwater measurements using sophisticated equipment provided by NATO (e.g. underwater spectroradiometer, optical fibre spectrometer, and temperature and salinity loggers). 

Some samples are analyzed in a laboratory in Inter University Institute, Eliat, Israel, and the Marine Science Station, Jordan.

Training of young scientists

Young scientists from Israel and Jordan are being trained together as part of this project which contributes to fostering better cooperation between the two countries. Sharing of experiences and knowledge will be of great benefit to the young scientists in terms of broadening their network and advancing their careers.

End results

The final outcome of this project (estimated for end 2009) will be a database and model of the ecosystem and an early warning system for any deterioration in water quality.  This information will be given to the regional governments and non-governmental conservation bodies in the Gulf area.