The 12-month composite map (below) shows the predominance of moderate to exceptional water deficits across much of the Middle East through July 2016. 

Lack of sufficient rainfall will exacerbate Saudi Arabia's growing water problems. Underground aquifers are so depleted after decades of farming that one Saudi company has purchased farmland in Asia, Europe, North and South America, including a major alfalfa export operation in Arizona. And for the first time Saudi Arabia will rely almost completely on wheat imports in 2016, "selling hydrocarbons to buy carbohydrates." In Yemen, ongoing water shortages are well documented, yet overshadowed by the nation's current security issues: 84 percent of Yemenis are water insecure; Yemenis spend up to 30 percent of their annual income on water; migration from drought-stricken farming communities to already stressed urban areas continues. By 2017 Sana'a may run out of water.

The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in more detail. Widespread exceptional deficits on the Arabian Peninsula, in southern Iraq, and in southern Iran are forecast to diminish in severity November through January. Surpluses are expected to persist in Iran along the Caspian Sea during this period and may emerge in the western province of Kermanshah. However, deficits are expected to persist and increase in severity throughout much of the Middle East from February through July, with areas of exceptional deficits forecast for eastern Yemen/western Oman, United Arab Emirates, and central Iran.

In Turkey, moderate deficits may begin to emerge in the west in November while surpluses continue to emerge in the east. By May, however, these conditions are expected to transition to deficits throughout much of the country, which may increase in severity May through July.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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