Middle East: Intense water deficits to emerge in Riyadh Province

31 July 2019

The forecast for the 12-month period ending March 2020 indicates widespread water deficits of varying intensity on much of the Arabian Peninsula including exceptional anomalies in southwestern Yemen, along the Yemen-Oman border and into southwestern Saudi Arabia, Al Madinah in Saudi Arabia, and 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 reaching Fars Province. Surpluses are also forecast in northern Iran along the Caspian Sea coast, the border with Turkmenistan, and from eastern Kerman Province through northern 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 September indicates that widespread surpluses will persist in the region from southeastern Turkey through northern Iraq into northwestern Iran and along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. Surpluses will remain intense, ranging from severe to exceptional, but many areas of previous surplus will begin to transition, indicated by purple and pink regions in Syria, western Iraq, and along the Persian Gulf in Iran. Surpluses will moderate in Kerman and Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran, and a transition is indicated as moderate deficits emerge there. Surpluses are also forecast for Cyprus, West Bank, northern Israel, and southern and eastern Jordan.

Intense deficits are forecast for central Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and primarily moderate deficits for a pocket of south-central Turkey, and Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and parts of Oman and Yemen.

From October through December, areas of transition will nearly disappear as surpluses re-emerge from northern Syria through northeastern Iraq into western Iran and along Iran’s Caspian coast and border with Turkmenistan. Surpluses will be exceptional in Syria, between Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq, and along the Iran-Turkmen border. Deficits will downgrade considerably, leaving mild deficits in central and southern Iran and on the Arabian Peninsula, with a pocket of intense deficit in southern Riyadh Province, Saudi Arabia. Nearly normal conditions will return to Turkey, with some pockets of surplus.

In the final quarter – January through March 2020 – surpluses will shrink considerably but intense anomalies are forecast for Syria, northeastern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and along the Iran-Turkmen border. Conditions in the remainder of the region will be relatively normal.

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

Floods and landslides killed at least five people and evacuated hundreds from their homes in northwest Turkey this month following “unprecedented rainfall” lasting 12 hours. Over 200 people needed rescuing after being stranded by floodwaters that inundated 124 villages in the province of Düzce.

Since 1980, droughts that formerly occurred in Turkey roughly once every 25 years have increased in frequency to every four to five years according to a Turkish environmental scientist who emphasized that almost half of Turkey’s land is at risk of desertification. To combat desertification, Turkey has reforested 6.5 billion square meters (1.6 million acres) since 2014, earning it the No. 3 spot in global reforestation efforts.

Floods following heavy rainfall killed at least six people in Yemen this month. Rushing waters flooded dozens of farms and swept away cars and cattle in the southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces.

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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