MIDDLE EAST: EXCEPTIONAL WATER DEFICITS FORECAST FOR LEBANON, ISRAEL, & WEST BANK

19 June 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The forecast for the 12-month period ending February 2019 (below) indicates exceptional deficits in West Bank, Israel, Jordan, northwestern Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Severe to extreme deficits will blanket much of the remainder of Saudi Arabia, as well as Iraq to the Euphrates River, Qatar, and Yemen. Deficits will also be intense in Cyprus, Lebanon, and southern Syria. Deficits of generally lesser severity are forecast for many parts of Turkey.

Deficits ranging from moderate to exceptional are forecast in south-central Iran, with some particularly intense pockets expected in Kerman Province. Surplus conditions are forecast across the northern border of 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 August, indicates that exceptional deficits occupying a vast block of the northern Arabian Peninsula are expected to shrink considerably but will persist in northern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq. Deficits will increase in both extent and intensity in southern Saudi Arabia and into Oman and Yemen, while deficits in Qatar and UAE will downgrade slightly but remain intense. In the Levant, exceptional deficits are forecast for Lebanon, Israel, and West Bank. Deficits of varying severity are forecast throughout Turkey and Syria, though deficits in western Turkey will downgrade from exceptional. Likewise, conditions in Cyprus will downgrade from exceptional but remain intense. Surpluses will persist across the northern border of Iraq and Iran, while deficits will become more severe in southern Iran, reaching exceptional intensity in Kerman Province and neighboring Fars and South Khorasan Provinces.

From September through August deficits will moderate in the Levant, and will downgrade somewhat on the Arabian Peninsula but remain fairly intense, especially in UAE. Intense deficits will emerge in central Yemen during this period. Exceptional deficits will persist surrounding Basrah, Iraq, and in Kerman Province, Iran. Severe surpluses are expected to emerge along Turkey’s southwestern shore and in the northwest along the Simav River (Susurluk River).

The forecast for the final quarter – December through February – indicates that deficits will diminish in the region overall and moderate surpluses will emerge throughout much of Turkey.

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

IMPACTS
Cyclone Mekunu struck Oman and Yemen with damaging winds, dumping nearly three years' worth of rainfall on Oman's third largest city over just four days in late May. The storm killed at least 13 people, including a 12-year old girl who was struck by a door flung open by the Category 3 winds. Prior to hitting Oman, the storm ravaged the Yemeni Socotra archipelago in the Arabian Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Siteleaving at least 30 people missing and causing massive damages on the largest island. The Arabian Peninsula had not experienced a storm with the strength of Mekunu since 1959.

Iraqi fears of major water shortages caused Turkey to postpone filling a large dam on the Tigris River until July. Reduced levels of the Tigris River in early June raised alarms for Iraqi Prime Minister Al Abadi, who expressed surprise that Ankara began filling the Ilisu dam basin early this month. Around 70 percent of Iraq’s water sources flow from neighboring states, with the largest sources, the Tigris and the Euphrates, both flowing through Turkey. Negotiations on shared water flows are ongoing.

A powerful dust storm, brought on by high winds and a lack of recent rainfall, injured at least 99 people in eastern Iran over its 12-hour course.

Iran’s Agriculture Ministry is expecting an 80,000 ton decline in pistachio production from the prior year, a 30 percent loss, due to extreme temperatures. The decrease is expected to be even greater, 75 percent, in Kerman Province, Iran's pistachio hub. Water shortages and soil salination, evidence of the country's increasingly dire water situation, are causing annual losses of between 8,000 and 12,000 hectares (20,000 to 30,000 acres) of pistachio orchards according to the Iran Pistachio Association.

The Israeli government approved a USD $30 million drought mitigation plan that includes constructing two new desalination plants, doubling the current output of desalinated seawater, and pumping desalinated water directly into the freshwater Sea of Galilee. The country’s Water and Energy minister called the last five years of drought - which have left water tables at the lowest in 98 years - an “exceptional situation,” rendering the once-distant idea of topping off the Sea of Galilee into a tangible plan.

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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