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Climate Stress Syria

Funding agency: Formas Annual open call – Research projects for early-career researchers. Duration: 2020-2023

This project looks into the severe drought that affected the Eastern Mediterranean between 2007 and 2009 that has become known as one of many factors leading up to the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. The project addresses societal impacts of climate stress through an integrated assessment of drought, vulnerability and conflict in Syria.

Climate change is expected to have widespread effects on societies across the world. A great concern is that climate extremes, in the future, will lead to a world with more armed conflicts and refugee displacement. The civil war in Syria that followed a severe drought is viewed as an important example of this. There is, however, much we do not know about what happened in Syria during and after the drought.

This project aims to study the effects of drought on agriculture and rural population in Syria, through a combination of remote sensing and in-depth interviews. This will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms that link climate, land systems, society, and conflict, which can provide important information about how vulnerability can be reduced in the future.


The project starts from the Syria Climate-Conflict narrative, and asks in-depth questions about the affected social-ecological systems. For example we plan to investigate the following broader questions:

  • How did the 2007-2009 drought affect the Land System in Syria?
  • What are the experiences of drought and land degradation of Syrian migrants in Turkey and Europe
  • What can we learn about the Syrian drought from the perspective of building resilience and reducing vulnerability in the agricultural and socio-ecological system?


Angermayr, Gianna, Dinc, Pinar and Lina Eklund (2022) "The Syrian Climate-Migration-Conflict Nexus: An Annotated Bibliography". Lund University. 

Dinc, Pinar and Lina Eklund (2023) "Syrian farmers in the midst of drought and conflict: the causes, patterns, and aftermath of land abandonment and migration"Climate and Development.

Eklund, Lina, Theisen, Ole Magnus, Baumann, Matthias et al. (2022) "Societal drought vulnerability and the Syrian climate-conflict nexus are better explained by agriculture than meteorology"Commun Earth Environ 3, 85.

Research Team

Lina Eklund (Principal Investigator), Researcher at CMES and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science (Lund University)

lina [dot] eklund [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se (lina[dot]eklund[at]nateko[dot]lu[dot]se)

Pinar Dinc, Researcher at CMES and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science (Lund University)

pinar [dot] dinc [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se (pinar[dot]dinc[at]nateko[dot]lu[dot]se)

Petter Pilesjö, Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information Systems (GIS Centre, Lund University)

petter [dot] pilesjo [at] gis [dot] lu [dot] se (petter[dot]pilesjo[at]gis[dot]lu[dot]se)

Photo by Maria Löfstedt