The Big Picture
The 12-month composite map (below) illustrates water deficits forecast in southern Turkey, Cyprus, Gaza, West Bank, Israel, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates; both deficits and surpluses in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen; and surpluses along the Iraq-Iran border and in a few pockets on Oman’s coast.
Cloud seeding - artificial rainmaking - has become standard meteorological operating procedure in the United Arab Emirates to combat natural aridity. Over 77 seeding operations took place between January and March, and were in part responsible for the record-breaking rainfall in March which canceled flights, flooded highways, and closed schools. Between Dubai and Al Ain 287 millimeters of rainfall fell in 24 hours – the highest level since official record keeping began in 1977.
The UAE - whose average annual rainfall is less than five inches and whose per capita water consumption is 550 liters, one of the highest rates in the world - is exploring the possibility of creating a man-made mountain to generate rain.
On May 6 Iran's head of the National Drought Warning and Monitoring Center at the Iran Meteorological Organization said that the state of underground water will not improve with short term rainfalls. "According to the 7-year observation of drought, in addition to 80% of the country, even in sections where we had heavy rainfalls recently, we still face accumulated drought.” During recent rainfall, volunteer villagers near Lake Bazangan rushed to create channels to direct rainwater back into the lake, restoring the water level to seven meters from two.
In March Iranian President Rouhani announced an initiative for a $400m water transfer scheme from the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman. Interbasin water transfers were also the focus of a recent Iranian-American workshop in Washington, DC.
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions. Severe to exceptional deficits in southern Turkey will persist through October and diminish thereafter. Exceptional deficits will emerge in May in Qatar and United Arab Emirates, persisting with varying extent and severity through October. Both deficits and surpluses will continue to emerge in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman throughout much of the forecast period with greatest extent and severity in May. Exceptional deficits are forecast to persist in central Iran through October; deficits will emerge along the Persian Gulf in Iran during May and persist through November, spreading inland.
Surpluses along the Iraq-Iran border and in Iran along the Caspian Sea are forecast to diminish. (It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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