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The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow into the historical cradle of civilization. Dams built on these rivers in recent decades have altered the landscape with large reservoirs easily seen in Landsat imagery.

Turkey has built 22 dams as part of its Southeastern Anatolia Project, as the country works toward energy independence. The country’s last major dam planned for the Tigris is also its largest. A reservoir began filling behind the Ilisu Dam in July 2019.

Over its five decades, the Landsat program has provided a record of both natural and human-caused landscape change.

Imagery

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May 17, 2009, Landsat 5 (path/row 171/34) — Ilisu Dam, Turkey
May 29, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 171/34) — Ilisu Dam, Turkey
May 21, 2022, Landsat 8 (path/row 171/34) — Ilisu Dam, Turkey

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References

Daily Sabah, 2020, Turkey’s Ilısu Dam on Tigris starts generating energy at full capacity: Daily Sabah, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://www.dailysabah.com/business/energy/turkeys-ilisu-dam-on-tigris-starts-generating-energy-at-full-capacity.

Debaere, P., 2018, Q&A with Julia Harte on Ilisu Dam: UVA Darden Global Water Blog, accessed July 5, 2022, at  https://blogs.darden.virginia.edu/globalwater/2018/01/03/qa-with-julia-harte/.

Hockenos, P., 2019, Turkey’s Dam-Building Spree Continues, At Steep Ecological Cost: Yale School of the Environment, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://e360.yale.edu/features/turkeys-dam-building-spree-continues-at-steep-ecological-cost.

Kucukgocmen, A., 2020, 'History disappears' as dam waters flood ancient Turkish town: Reuters, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-dam/history-disappears-as-dam-waters-flood-ancient-turkish-town-idUSKBN20J1TW.

Patel, K., 2020, Slowly Flooding History: NASA Earth Observatory, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146439/slowly-flooding-history.

Taylor, A., 2019, Moving an Ancient Town to Higher Ground: The Atlantic, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2019/10/hasankeyf-moving-an-ancient-town-to-higher-ground/599656/.

Taylor, A., 2020, An Ancient Town Submerged—Hasankeyf Underwater: The Atlantic, accessed July 5, 2022, at https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2020/10/photos-an-ancient-town-submerged-hasankeyf-underwater/616562/.

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