Middle East: Water deficits forecast to increase in Saudi Arabia

9 February 2019

The forecast for the 12-month period ending September 2019 indicates widespread, intense water deficits on the Arabian Peninsula including exceptional deficits in Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen; western Oman; and along the Gulf of Oman in Iran.

Extreme deficits are forecast for Kuwait and southern Iraq, and deficits of varying severity in parts of the Levant, western Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and central Iran.

Surpluses ranging from moderate to exceptional are forecast from northern Syria into eastern Turkey, from Iraq east of the Euphrates River into western Iran, and along Iran’s central Caspian Sea coast.

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

The forecast through March indicates intense deficits on the Arabian Peninsula and surpluses from eastern Turkey through western Iran. Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Saudi Arabia, and exceptional deficits in Yemen’s western and eastern thirds, and pockets of Oman. Extreme deficits will emerge in Qatar but deficits in United Arab Emirates will downgrade. Deficits will dominate Iran’s southern bulk with severe to extreme anomalies in southern Yazd and the border shared by Kerman and neighboring province Sistan and Baluchistan. Some moderate deficits are expected in southern Syria, Jordan, and Iraq west of the Euphrates, but exceptional surpluses are forecast on the Euphrates. And, severe to exceptional surpluses are forecast for eastern Turkey, northern Syria, and Iraq east of the Euphrates, with surpluses of generally lesser intensity across the border into Iran and along Iran’s western Caspian Sea coast.

From April through June surpluses in the region will shrink and deficits on the Arabian Peninsula will intensify. Aforementioned surpluses will shrink considerably in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran but exceptional surpluses will persist in northern Syria and linger around Mosul and Kirkuk, Iraq. Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Iraq west of the Euphrates and southern Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, western Oman, and Iran along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Severe deficits are forecast for Yemen, but anomalies may be more intense in the east. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for southern Syria and Jordan, and severe deficits will emerge in Georgia.

In the final quarter – July through September – deficits are expected to increase and intensify considerably in the region with severe to exceptional anomalies forecast for the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Turkey, western and southern Iraq, and much of Iran.

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

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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