Unseen Passage: Drought in Syria

Reading Comprehension

Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said on March 02,2015 that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that it was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.

The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and the scientists laid the blame for it on a centurylong trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation.

Colin P. Kelley, the lead author of the study, who researched while at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is now at the University of California, said there was no apparent natural cause for the warming and drying trend, which developed over the last 100 years, when humans’ effect on climate has been the greatest.

Some social scientists, policy makers and others have previously suggested that the drought played a role in the Syrian unrest, and the researchers addressed this as well, saying the drought ‘had a catalytic effect.’

They cited studies that showed that the extreme dryness, combined with other factors, including misguided agricultural and water use policies of the Syrian government, caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas. This added to social stresses that eventually resulted in the uprising against Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

What began as civil war has since escalated into a multifaceted conflict, with at least 200,000 deaths. The researchers said that there were many factors that contributed to the chaos. The US military has described climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ that may lead to greater instability.

Q. Answer the following questions:

  1. An extreme drought in Syria occurred most likely due to climate change between _________ and ________ .
  2. The scientists laid the blame for the drought on __________.
  3. The lead author of the study was _________.
  4. Researchers added to the study that drought had a __________.


  1. 2006; 2009
  2. a century
  3. Colin P. Kelly
  4. catalytic effect

Q. Choose the correct alternatives:

  1. The US military has described climate change as a __________.
    1. cause for instability
    2. cause for temperature
    3. threat multiplier
    4. All of the above
  2. Crop failures led to the migration of _________ people from rural to urban areas.
    1. 2 million
    2. 1.5 million
    3. 5 million
    4. 15 million
  3. Migration added to the social stresses which eventually resulted in the uprising against _________.
    1. Syrian government
    2. Bashar al-Assad
    3. Colin P. Kelly
    4. US military
  4. __________ is the word from the passage which means ‘total state of confusion’.
    1. multifaceted
    2. chaos
    3. emissions
    4. None of the above


  1. threat multiplier
  2. 1.5 million
  3. Bashar al-Assad
  4. chaos

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