Dec 13, 2013
Climbing Concern for the Caucasus Climate
Posted on Jun 21, 2013
By Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network
There are often hailstorms in Armenia and throughout the rugged and mountainous Caucasus region but the ferocity of this one – happening in mid May when crops were just coming to life – was highly unusual.
Armenia is a mountainous country with a generally arid climate and is judged to be particularly vulnerable to changes in climate. Zaruhi Petrosyan is a meteorologist at Armenia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations.
“Usually hailstorms last for only five or seven minutes” she says. “This was a very strange meteorological phenomenon. There are changing weather patterns in some regions but just how significant these are is difficult to estimate.”
But international bodies predict a far greater degree of change.
A report in 2009 by the Stockholm Environment Institute together with the United Nations Development Programme talked of “enormous” changes in Armenia’s climate over the next century, with likely increases in temperatures of 4.5 C in the lowlands and 7C in the highlands by 2100.
Water supplies – already a serious problem in many areas – are likely to come under increased strain as rainfall decreases, said the report, causing agricultural production to fall by nearly 10%.
Money to Survive
Vardan Hambardzumyan is president of the Armenian Federation of Agricultural Associations.
“We are fully aware how climate change will affect agriculture” he says. “We have to safeguard our water and land resources: we have to protect our forests. Armenia plays a very small role in the problem of climate change – but that doesn’t mean we should be ignorant of its impacts.”
Hambardzumyan says there’s a need to develop new seeds to resist rising temperatures and to use cattle better able to withstand the heat.
“We also need innovative technology – and help from international organisations.”
Meanwhile the farmers in the Ararat Valley who lost their crops due to the freak hailstorm are insisting that the government gives them financial support.
“We don’t live in luxury” says one farmer. “All we’re asking for is money to survive through the year.”
Another farmer points to one of his prize cherry trees: “Usually I’d get a hundred kilos from this tree. My cherries were famous. People would queue up for them. This year I’ll maybe get a couple of buckets. The rest go to the pigs – and even they are fed up and don’t eat them.”
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