Middle East: Water surpluses will persist from Syria into Iran

24 June 2019

The forecast for the 12-month period ending February 2020 indicates widespread water deficits of varying intensity on much of the Arabian Peninsula including exceptional pockets in southwestern Yemen, along the Yemen-Oman border and into southwestern Saudi Arabia, Al Madinah in Saudi Arabia, and central United Arab Emirates.

Surpluses are forecast for a vast stretch from Syria into southeastern Turkey and through northern Iraq and well into western Iran, trailing south through Fars Province. Surpluses are also forecast in northern Iran along the Caspian Sea coast, the border with Turkmenistan, and a diagonal path from Esfahan Province through Yazd, Kerman and Sistan and Baluchistan. Surpluses will be exceptional in Syria, pockets of Iraq, and along Iran’s border with Turkmenistan. Areas of surplus include Aleppo (Syria); Mosul, Kirkuk, and Baghdad (Iraq); and Tehran, Iran.

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

The forecast through August indicates that widespread water surpluses will persist in the region from northern Syria into southern and eastern Turkey, from the Euphrates River in Iraq well into western Iran, and in northern Iran along the Caspian coast and the border with Turkmenistan. Both deficits and surpluses (pink/purple) are forecast as well from the Mediterranean through Iran as transitions occur, but surpluses will persist in southeastern Iran. Deficits will increase on the Arabian Peninsula and will include exceptional deficits in central Saudi Arabia and western Oman, along with transition areas in Saudi Arabia. Deficits will also increase in central Turkey.

From September through November, surpluses will re-emerge in transition areas of southern Turkey and northern Syria, joining persistent surpluses in those regions. Surpluses will also persist in northern Iraq and western Iran, but the extent in Iran will decrease as provinces just north and east of the Persian Gulf continue to transition out of surplus. Transitions are also forecast for surplus areas along Iran’s border with Turkmenistan and in southeastern Iran, while relatively moderate deficits increase in central Iran. Intense deficits are forecast for a vast pocket in central Saudi Arabia surrounded by deficits of lesser intensity. Isolated, small pockets of intense deficit are expected in Yemen and United Arab Emirates.

In the final quarter – December 2019 through February 2020 – surpluses in the region will shrink but surpluses are forecast for Syria, northeastern Iraq, and western Iran, and exceptional surpluses will re-emerge in northeastern Iran. Deficits on the Arabian Peninsula will shrink and downgrade considerably, normalizing overall but mild to moderate deficits are forecast in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Surpluses will re-emerge in south-central Oman.

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

Rain storms over the Arabian Peninsula began late last month, flooding the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and delaying flights out of Muscat International Airport in Oman.  

Heavy rain in southern and eastern Yemen caused flooding that killed at least two people this month. Thousands of internally displaced people on the outskirts of the southern port city of Aden in the war-torn nation suffered massive damages to makeshift shelters. The rains have affected nearly 70,000 people in over 10 governorates, and 293 of Yemen’s 333 districts are cholera affected, amounting to 364,000 suspected cases of the waterborne disease.

A family of six was swept away in flash flooding of a wadi in Oman last month. Deaths of four of the six were confirmed, while two children remained missing as of late May.

A flash flood caused by a landslide in mid-June killed at least seven people and demolished seven buildings in Turkey’s Black Sea region.

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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