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Syrian student Shifa Mathbout reads her doctoral thesis on rainfall in the eastern Mediterranean at the University of Barcelona

Shifa Mathbout.

Shifa Mathbout.

15/03/2016

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Shifa Mathbout is a doctoral student from Syria who arrived in Barcelona in 2012 and is currently in the process of applying for refugee status. She read her doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Geography and History at the University of Barcelona on 17 February. In her research, Dr Mathbout analysed rainfall in the eastern Mediterranean region and studied the droughts that have affected her country in recent years, particularly in 2007-2008. “Together with other factors, these droughts contributed to the outbreak of the war in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people,” explains Mathbout, whose thesis was accepted summa cum laude.

Entitled Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Precipitation Variability and Drought Patterns in the Eastern Mediterranean, Mathbout’s thesis analyses the spatio-temporal distributions and variations of annual, seasonal and monthly rainfall in the eastern region of the Mediterranean, one the ‘hot spots’ of climate change and where extreme weather phenomena such as more frequent and intense droughts are predicted.


The results of Mathbout’s research show a negative trend in annual rainfall from 1961 to 2012 in the eastern Mediterranean, and most significantly in the southernmost part of this area. Dr Mathbout used data from over 100 weather stations for her research and analysed her results by means of various formulas and indicators.

Dr Mathbout’s doctoral thesis was directed by faculty chair of the Department of Physical Geography and Regional Geographic Analysis, Javier Martín Vide, and by Professor Joan Albert López Bustins of the same department. The members of the doctoral examination panel were Professor Fernando S. Rodrigo of the University of Almería; the researcher Michele Brunetti (ISAC-CNR, Bologna, Italy); and Pere Esteban, a lecturer at the University of Barcelona.

In her acknowledgements, Mathbout dedicated her doctoral thesis to her parents and brother, and to all “all Syrians who have been oppressed”. Last September, the University of Barcelona launched a series of actions coordinated by the UB Solidarity Foundation. These actions support students and refugees arriving in Catalonia who are fleeing conflict in their homelands.


 

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