MIDDLE EAST: Water deficits forecast for the Arabian Peninsula, esp Quatar & UAE (June 24, 2016)
The Big Picture
The 12-month composite map (below) illustrates water deficits forecast in southern Turkey, Cyprus, Gaza, West Bank, Israel, Kuwait, and Qatar. Much of the rest of the Middle East is forecast to experience deficits ranging from abnormal to exceptional, with both deficits and surpluses throughout. Surpluses are forecast along the Iraq-Iran border, in Iran along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, and in an isolated pocket on central Oman’s coast.
In a royal decree King Salman of Saudi Arabia has exempted 38,774 drought-affected farmers in the Arabian Shield region along the Red Sea from paying back loans totaling SR 1.2 billion (US $326.7 million) to the Agricultural Development Fund.
A massive forest fire fueled by high winds, high temperatures, and dry conditions raged for four days northeast of Nicosia, Cyprus killing two firefighters and incinerating countless 150-year old pine trees. One of the worst fires in the island's history, six nations - Britain, Greece, Israel, France, Italy, and Turkey - contributed resources to suppress it.
Unusually low rainfall over the past several months in Syria has wheat farmers agonizing over losses already impacted by war. Wheat is Syria's most important crop, accounting for over 40 percent of caloric intake according to a policy brief published by Duke University.
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions. Water deficits are forecast to persist throughout the Middle East through February, though the extent of exceptional deficits will diminish. However, areas with both deficits and surpluses will gradually transition to primarily deficits.
Cyprus is forecast to transition out of exceptional deficit after May, while deficits in Qatar and United Arab Emirates may become more severe for the next six months. Pockets of severe to exceptional deficits across southern Turkey are expected to linger through November before diminishing in severity.
Surpluses along the Iraq-Iran border and in Iran along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea are forecast to gradually disappear.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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