MIDDLE EAST: WATER DEFICITS TO INCREASE IN TURKEY, EMERGE IN GAZA, ISRAEL, & WEST BANK

25 May 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The forecast for the 12-month period ending January 2019 (below) indicates exceptional deficits in Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, and United Arab Emirates. Extreme deficits are forecast for West Bank and Qatar.

Deficits will also be intense in Cyprus, western Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and southern Iran. Primarily severe deficits are expected in Iraq west of the Euphrates and Yemen. Generally mild deficits are forecast for Oman and Georgia.

Surplus conditions are forecast across the northern border between Iraq and Iran.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

The forecast for the next several months, through July, indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits in the region will diminish but deficits in Turkey will increase in extent and severity, covering much of the nation. Exceptional deficits are expected to persist in southern Iraq, Kuwait, large pockets of northern Saudi Arabia, and in southern Iran near the Strait of Hormuz. Intense deficits will emerge in Gaza, Israel, West Bank, and Lebanon. Deficits will downgrade in western Iraq. In Iran, deficits in Fars Province east of the Persian Gulf will become more intense. Surpluses along the northern border of Iraq and Iran will downgrade, and the South Caucasus will transition out of surplus, with some pockets of intense deficit in Georgia. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Yemen.

After July, intense deficits remain in the forecast for Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, and Kuwait, as well as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, southern Iran, West Bank, and Israel. Deficits in Turkey will moderate overall. Primarily severe deficits are forecast for Syria, Lebanon, western Iraq, and Yemen. Mild deficits are forecast for the South Caucasus.

The forecast for the final quarter – November through January – indicates that deficits will diminish in the regional overall and some areas of surplus will emerge in central Turkey.

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

IMPACTS
Unusually heavy rains pounded Israel and the West Bank late last month causing deadly flash floods. Two teenagers were swept to their deaths - in separate incidents in the Negev Desert and Hebron - as were 10 teenagers on an organized hike south of the Dead Sea. The hikers were part of a larger group belonging to a pre-military academy. Two staff members of the academy have been arrested for negligent manslaughter after going forward with the trip despite being advised to cancel amid weather warnings.

Heavy rains caused torrential flooding that swept vehicles down an inundated street in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Though the rain was forecast to last three hours, it deluged within nine minutes. Six people were injured, and more than 160 cars and 25 businesses suffered damages.

Famers in southern Iran's Khuzestan Province are protesting a recent ban on rice cultivation for the upcoming year. The provincial ban was announced to conserve scarce water resources amid a chronic drought, and farmers were encouraged to plant soy or other beans in place of rice. Farmers assert that rice cultivation earns a better living than beans.

Iran is in pursuit of karst aquifersformed in places where water is able to leach through porous or fissured rocks. Geologic research suggests that eleven percent of Iran's area could potentially contain such aquifers. Initial estimates show that Iran may have 300 billion cubic meters (10.5 trillion cubic feet) of karst waters, though experts say the volume could decrease by 50 percent in an ongoing drought.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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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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