Middle East: Water deficits forecast for the Arabian Peninsula and western Iraq

The Big Picture
As the 12-month map (below) illustrates, many parts of the Middle East are forecast to experience water deficits ranging from abnormal to exceptional, with the greatest extent and severity on the Arabian Peninsula. Deficits are forecast for southern Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Jordan, western Iraq, Qatar, and portions of Iran. 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.

Statistics from Iran's Meteorological Organization indicate that 72 percent of the population is feeling the effects of prolonged drought since the beginning of the current crop year. Periods of drought have affected Isfahan, Yazd, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, South Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi, Fars, Kerman, Semnan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Qom, Markazi, Gilan, and Mazandaran.

One person was killed and 30 injured in Boldaji, Iran, as a clash broke out between supporters and opponents of a project to transfer water to a steel mill.

According to new data from Israel's Water Authority, the water shortage in northern Israel is the worst in 100 years. The water level in the Sea of Galilee is expected to drop below its "red warning line" - about 700 feet (213 meters) above sea level - by September, threatening the water supplies of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions. Water deficits are forecast to persist throughout most of the Middle East through the 12-month forecast period, though the extent of exceptional deficits will diminish. Many areas with both deficits and surpluses will gradually transition to primarily deficits.

The July through September map shows the persistence of deficits on the Arabian Peninsula and the increase in severity of deficits in Qatar and United Arab Emirates – from moderate to extreme. In Yemen, a checkerboard pattern of deficits and surpluses in the April through June map elevates in severity to a broader extent of moderate deficits July through September. Exceptional deficits in central Iran are forecast to increase in extent during this period, and deficits will continue to emerge in southwestern provinces. Deficits in Jordan and Syria are forecast to diminish in severity. Conditions in Turkey will remain much the same as in the prior three months.

From October on, deficits in the Middle East are expected to be less severe than in prior months. Conditions in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman are forecast to remain relatively unchanged October through March. Exceptional deficits are forecast to persist in central Iran through October and deficits will continue to emerge in southern provinces through November. 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.)


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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