The eastern and western banks of the river Tigris that runs around Baghdad are known as Karkh and Rusafa.

They serve as the starting point for the Baghdad-based artist Aqeel Khreef’s exploration into the effects of climate change on Iraq’s southern marshes, which the ancient Tigris river feeds into.

In the footage below, Khreef crosses the Bab Al Moadham bridge on the Rusafa side in Baghdad, where he sees the river’s empty banks, a sign of what’s to come as he begins his journey southwards.

Over the next year, Khreef will highlight how pollution and rising temperatures are slowly destroying Iraq’s famed, age-old marshlands, which appear in the epic of Gilgamesh and were named a UNESCO Heritage site in 2016. His focus will be specifically on the flora and fauna of the marshes; the reed, the water buffalos and the fish. Reflecting on their history and cultural signficance, he will also shed light on their fragility today.

His ensuing videos and pictures will be published online as “weather reports”, as part of the World Weather Network, which sees a collective of 28 arts organisations build a global constellation of ‘weather stations’ in response to climate change.

Follow his journey here.

The Rusafa, Baghdad’s eastern shore. Photo: Aqeel Khreef.

The Karkh, Baghdad’s eastern shore. Photo: Akeel Khreef