Edited, published and Copyright ©
2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009-2018 by Craig Dremann,
The Reveg Edge (sm). P.O. Box 361, Redwood City, Cal. 94064.
Phone (650) 325-7333
Desert Stipa grass photos Copyright © 2002 by Craig Dremann.
Portions of this article were originally published as "How
Revegetation Can Reduce Global Warming" in the Planet
Drum Pulse (2002) Winter, pages 1-2. Planet Drum Foundation,
San Francisco, CA., and translated into Portuguese "O
Plantio de Vegetação pode Reduzir o Aquecimento
Global" The Ecologist Brasil (2002) Inverno 5:
Cooling a planet with Revegetation with special attention to the Arabian Peninsula,
and a method to significantly increase water resources of the
area. By Craig Dremann
The world's attention has been focused on
the politics and geologic resources of a strip of desert land
from the Arabian peninsula eastward to Western India. What about the health of the ecosystems and rainfall
patterns of that region?
Could the health of the native perennial
grasslands of this region in particular, have planetary implications
for the rest of us?
This is the story of the humble perennial
grass plants, that originally formed a savanna over
these desert areas, until 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. Pollen records
and dust records from the Arabian peninsula (Van Campo et al,
1982; Sirocko et al, 1993) and most recently, ice cores from Kilimanjaro
(Thompson et al, 2002) record an abrupt change from wet to dry.
Humans in this area went from a Neolithic hunter-gather
life, about 5,500 years ago, to settling in city-states, with
agriculture and widespread grazing of domesticated cattle, sheep
and goats. The cattle ate the perennial grasses and the goats
and sheep ate everything else. By 4,700 years ago, everything
from Morocco to Western India was converted from perennial grasslands,
There is a statue that records this vegetation change,
one copy in the University of Philadelphia and the other in the
British Museum: "Ram in the Thicket". Made in Ur, Mesopotamia
(modern Iraq) 4,700 years ago, it shows a ram reaching high into
a thicket to eat some leaves. This statue may be one of the only
examples of human-induced environmental change incorporated into
"Ram in the Thicket" located at the University
of Philadelphia, made in Ur, Mesopotamia 4,700 years ago, it shows
a ram reaching high into a thicket to eat some leaves. (Photo
This statue shows an environment, where all the ground-level
forage has been stripped off the land for many years, all
the palatable shrubs are gone, only leaving thorn bushes, with
even their lower branches have been stripped bare. Archeologists
are not sure what the ram statues signify, but they suspect it
was something religious. Perhaps it could have been an ancient
prophesy: "When the ram reaches high to eat the leaves of
the thorn bushes, your civilization will be destroyed"? The
rams did eat the thorn bush leaves, and Ur was destroyed.
The stripping of the vegetation and subsequent desertification
forced the hunter-gathering lifestyle to be completely abandoned
in Arabia by 5200-5600 years ago (Thompson et al, 2002). The largest
bare areas today are the 300,000 square miles of the southern
portion of the Arabian peninsula is called Rub Al Khali or "The
Empty Quarter", and everyone has heard of the Sahara desert.
Plus a new bare portion has been forming from recent droughts,
that stretches from Western India through Afghanistan.
Looking at photographs of the first civilizations of this
area: there is nothing at these ancient sites today, just
ruins, rocks and sand to the horizon, no humans or even a speck
of green vegetation of any sort. Look at photos of Ur in Iraq,
Palmyra in Syria, or Pasargadae in Iran. All this bare ground
causes dust storms, which an estimated 260 million tons is blown
annually into the Atlantic ocean from the Sahara alone (Van Campo,
On a global scale, all that bare ground getting hot by the
sun, is blocking the world's precipitation cycle. The five
thousand years of grazing of North Africa and the Middle East
has left about five billion acres mostly bare of any vegetation--that
constitutes about 15% of the planet's total land area, if you
exclude Antarctica and Greenland.
The world's clouds mostly start out as moisture coming off
the Antarctic ice sheet. They circle eastward hugging the
Antarctic coast, until they get just east of Australia, when they
move north to the equator, then westward along the equator to
China. At China and Japan, a portion breaks north that eventually
ends up along the coast of Alaska and then moves southeastward
to rain on California in the winter, but the major portion keeps
traveling westward and creates the monsoons in India in the summer
of the northern hemisphere.
What happens when the sun hits the bare soils of the
strip from Western India to the Arabian peninsula, is that there
is no longer any perennial grasses to insulate the rocks and soil
from absorbing the heat of the sun. If the shade temperature at
noon is 90°F, the top inch of bare soil can be 126°F versus
only 88°F when only one small perennial native grass plant
growing. The Mojave's Desert Stipa of the Californian desert (Achnantherum
speciosum), shows nearly a 40 degree difference, below.
Above: "Six miles south of Palmdale, on September 27,
2000 at noon a California native Harvester ant finds the coolest
Mojave soil temperature underneath the perennial native Desert
Stipa grass plant" Copyright © 2000 by Craig C. Dremann.
Temperatures are in Fahrenheit ± one degree, measured 0.25"
(6 mm) below the soil's surface. Grid is in inches. The plant's
diameter is nine inches by eight inches, and the cooling effect
of the plant includes the dense shade cast upon the desert's surface.
The bare rocks and soil absorb the sun's heat, which
in turn heats the air, which in turn creates an area of with a
very low dew point. When the heat of the sun is absorbed by the
exposed rocks and sand, the heat is carried a long way underground,
like heating a skillet on the stove. When there is dust in the
atmosphere, it traps and holds the heat longer. When water moisture
is in the air that could produce rain, moves towards these hotter,
bare areas, the heat and the dust keep clouds from forming and
the rain cannot precipitate out of the air, when the dew point
is too far from the air temperature.
Univ. of Wisconsin's web site shows land and ocean temperatures
. The blockage of the monsoonal rainfall can be seen, the
heat from the bare soil and the atmospheric dust keeping the clouds
Image above shows a typical summer monsoonal pattern for
the last 5,000 years, where the heat from the bare soils and
atmospheric dust stops the monsoonal clouds from forming over
the Arabian peninsula.
The global moisture conveyor-belt stopped in western India,
Afghanistan and the Arabian peninsula during most of the summers
of this decade , causing floods in Southeast Asia and central
India when the moisture is blocked by the hot soil surface temperatures.
If an annual investment could be made, to revegetate large
area of the Middle East, with their own local perennial native
grasses and savanna-tree (like the native Acacias), the global
moisture conveyor belt would continue across the Equator, through
Africa, to bring rain to the Middle East and eventually, the farms
in the Midwest and Southwest United States.
FOCUS on the Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian peninsula's pivotal location, could become
the "stepping stone" to allow the monsoon moisture to
move westward each summer, if the perennial native grasses and
savanna shade-trees were replanted. Left: Shows the line
where the western movement of the monsoon moisture is blocked,
May to September each year. Right: Producing cooler soil
temperatures in summer with revegetation of the bare soils, and
lowering the atmospheric dust, could help the monsoon moisture
to rain over the Arabian peninsula, as it did regularly 2,000-6,000
SALALAH, OMAN as the example. The cool-soil conditions created
by perennial vegetation, that produce rainfall from the summer
monsoonal moisture, still occurs in the mountains north of the
city of Salalah Oman. Photo copyright ©
Oman Attractions, used with written permission.
The vegetation of the mountains above
Salalah that creates the rain each summer, can barely
be seen from space, seen as a very thin green line along the coast
of the Sultanate of Oman. This shows how a relatively tiny amount
of vegetation can radically change the rainfall patterns of an
Pilot Study on Biosphere - Atmosphere Interaction in Dhofar
by MIT Professor Eltahi, and his Role of Vegetation Dynamics in
Enhancing the Low-Frequency Variability of the Sahel Rainfall
See more pictures of Salalah at http://www.ecoseeds.com/salalah.html
of the remarkable and dramatic connection between vegetation and
THE ANCIENT TRACK of moisture across the
Arabian peninsula does not show up as clouds, but the
water vapor still follows the 6,000 year old rain-path. The moisture
going over Arabia every summer is now extremely suppressed by
the hot, bare soils and atmospheric dust.
The moisture is there every summer, and is felt by everyone
on the ground as high humidity, it just cannot rain until the
air temperature is lowered with vegetation covering the bare soil
and lowering the dust in the air. Hot bare soil, changes the dew
point, stopping the water vapor from creating rainfall, and the
dust keeps the heat in the atmosphere for a longer period of time.
Water vapor image from http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/comp/wv/LATEST_WV.gif
Example from July 20, 2010 of the ancient track of monsoonal
moisture for a brief time, forming clouds across Arabia again
after 6,000 years.
Example when in October 18-24, 2008, the Indian monsoon
moisture breaks through the heat and atmospheric dust of the Arabian
peninsula, producing floods in Yemen that destroyed 1700 homes.
Images above are frames from my GIF movie at http://www.ecoseeds.com/2008_storm.gif
Above is a frame from my movie of the June-July
2006 water vapor movements at http://www.ecoseeds.com/Saudi_2006_vapormov.gif
And my movie of the July-August 2010 cloud
movement that caused the Pakistan floods at http://www.ecoseeds.com/2010_monsoon_flood.gif
And the day-by-day
dust and moisture movements during the 2010 Pakistan floods
HOT BARE SOILS and the atmospheric dust of the Arabian peninsula
has such a strong effect to block moisture, that the category-5
super Tropical Cyclone Gonu could not make landfall in June, 2007,
and was bottled up in the Gulf of Oman for several days instead
of moving inland.
EVEN AT CATEGORY-5 strength, Tropical Cyclone Gonu at 155-195
mph, was not strong enough to break through the atmospheric
dust barrier covering Arabia in June 2007 (NASA, Earth Observatory).
Tropical Cyclone Gonu, bottled up like a cork in the Gulf of
Oman, instead of producing useful rain across the Arabian
peninsula, was repelled for days by the dust and hot bare-soil.
(NOAA). See the battle between GONU and
the dust here
June 2010, Tropical Cyclone Phet, another Category-5 storm
trying to make landfall on the Arabian peninsula, being kept
away by the dust and heat coming off the bare soil, and sent towards
Pakistan. Photo NASA Earth Observatory, http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=44217
Monsoon moisture and vegetation, with clouds
forming over vegetated areas and no clouds forming over the hot-bare
soil. Image June 30, 2007 http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/indian/images/xxirmet5bbm.jpg
Example on November 20, 2010, of the clouds, atmospheric
dust and moisture. Dust image from the NAAPS page on the "Big
Table" at http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil
See more photos at http://www.ecoseeds.com/dustandclouds.html
Two major Arabian peninsula rivers that could start flowing again, and two huge lakes
that could start storing water again.
River #1 was 650 miles long,
and averaged 5 miles wide and 50 feet deep along its entire length,
was studied by Boston University scientist Farouk El-Baz in 1993.
(DISCOVER, July 1993 "A river in the desert").
River #2, the Empty Quarter river and its associated lakes and marshlands, flowing through
the southern Arabian peninsula, extrapolated from five
Giant Lake, originally 100
meters deep (300 feet) can clearly be seen from Google Earth
Ptolemy's lake in Yemen.
(1.) A NASA Landsat composite of Saudi Arabia made by geology.com
posted at http://geology.com/world/saudi-arabia-satellite-image.shtml
(2.) An article about Aramco geologist Hal McClure's thesis, in
a 1989 issue of Aramco World, "Lakes of the Rub' al-Khali"
(3.) Ancient riverbed locations from Dr. Abdallah
E. Dabbagh (et al) at King Fahd University in Dhahran,
"Geologic and Hydrologic Studies of Saudi Arabia Under the
Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) Science Plan" (formerly at http://southport.jpl.nasa.gov/ProgressReports0496/Dabbagh.Final.html)
especially the "Figure 11 - Pleistocene drainage of Arabian
(4.) Philby, H. St. John B. 1933 book "The Empty Quarter:
Being a description of the Great South Desert of Arabia known
as Rub' al Khali" (pub. Henry Holt & Co. NY) on his chapter
"Forgotten Rivers" and finding river beds with fresh-water
(5.) Map Arabia Felice Nuova by Ruscelli, Venice 1574 edition,
two versions of Ptolemy's map of Arabia, with one showing the
lake in Yemen, that Ptolemy wrote about existing in Arabia. Yemen.
(formerly at http://www.helmink.com/Antique_Map_Ruscalli_Arabia/)
(6.) Google Earth images.
Basemap is from "The World" 1998 scale 1:30,000,000
at the equator, published by the Dept. of Defense, National Imagery
and Mapping Agency
.The Empty Quarter's huge river bed and falls, showing
massive waterflows in the middle of the Empty Quarter at 18 deg.08'24.10"N,
45 deg.25'05.88"E, on Google Earth. Blue-white color are
from the minerals in the river water that dried on the surface,
when the river stopped flowing.
The Empty Quarter's lake beds, according to McClure, are
distributed down the middle length of the Rub' al-Khali"
- a distance of some 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) and bones of
hippopotamus, water buffalo and long-horned cattle, wild asses,
wild goats or sheep, oryx, gazelle, and possibly camels and hartebeest,
as well as fresh water clam shells, have been found in the ancient
Written records exist, describing rivers in Arabia flowing
in historic times. In 430 BCE, Herodotus in "The Histories"
Book III mentions a "great river in Arabia, called the Corys".
Later, the historian Strabo in 22 CE in "Geography"
Book XVI tells about the Roman expedition in Arabia of Aelius
Gallus arriving at a river in the middle of the desert, and describes
the southwestern part of Arabia with enough rain in the summer
to produce two crops a year, and reports that rivers were flowed
Photo from 22 N latitude 54 E longitude, ancient 6,000 year old
lake bed, surface is the dried minerals from the water, with the
water originally higher than the dunes in the background, over
100 meters deep (300 feet). Image from the Confluence.org
project, used with permission.
Ancient 6,000 year old, Empty Quarter lake bed, seen from
30.6 miles, Google Earth image. Looking from the UAE across KSA
into the Sultanate of Oman.
Ancient 6,000 year old, Empty Quarter lake bed, seen from
24,000 feet, Google Earth image.
The former perennial grassland areas of the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, along with portions of Yemen and the Sultante of
Oman, called "desert rangelands" cover about
76% of the KSA, or 419 million acres (1.7 million square km.)
(AbuZinada, 2002)--and then there are rangelands in the adjoining
countries, like the Sultanate of Oman and Yemen, which could be
restored to their former abundance.
Natural ecological restoration of a large part of the Arabian
peninsula, especially the areas where the bare soils are producing
the bulk of the atmospheric dust, that keeps the summer moisture
away, would be the easiest method to get the rains to start falling
The Arabian peninsula on average only receives four inches
(10 cm) or rainfall per year, but relic plant species in the
area's flora, indicate that it should be possible to increase
the annual rainfall to at least ten inches (25 cm) as a reasonable
goal, and perhaps as much as 25-40 inches (60-100 cm) could be
This increased summer moisture could start rivers flowing
again that haven't flowed for 2,000-6,000 years, filling the wadis
again with flowing water, and could help lower the annual summer
maximum daytime and night time temperatures for the countries
of the peninsula, perhaps 10-20 degrees F lower.
A portion of the 419 million acres of the desert rangelands,
could be an ideal location for the world's largest Ecological
Restoration Preserve, a project to reduce global warming,
and to help increase the annual rainfall and increase the water
supply of Arabia. Perhaps this would be the best spot on the planet
to start the conversion of the desert--which is currently mostly
dwarf-shrub steppes and annual grasses--back to its original perennial
native grasslands, and get the desert rivers flowing again?
ARABIAN native perennial grasslands, photographed in 1962.
(Photo by H. Heady)
The native grasslands of the Arabian peninsula were
studied by Professor Harold F. Heady, a grasslands expert from
the University of California at Berkeley, as a consultant
for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 1962. Traveling
over 3,500 miles (5,758 kilometers) by automobile, he found remnants
of the Arabia's original perennial grasslands, like the Panicum
turgidum shown above.
Desert native grasslands seen by Dr. Heady,
were located "on the plains of the Red Sea south of
Jeddah, where the soil is so covered with vegetation that it disappears
from view at a distance of 10 to 15 meters from the observer."
Also, a 50-kilometer-wide [30-mile-wide] area of Panicum turgidum
near Hadriyah along the Tapine road was in excellent condition,
as were similar stands near Al Lith', south of Jeddah. (Heady,
Replanting the native perennial grasses and
trees like the Acacia, could help stop or slow down the potential
monsoonal floods that may hit the Arabian peninsula, and other
parts of the Middle East in the near future.
The monsoonal moisture broke through the
5,000 year old barrier created by the
atmospheric dust and heat in July and August of 2010, and caused
massive floods in Pakistan. With global warming as a new active
variable, the monsoonal moisture may return to the lands of the
Arabian peninsula and other parts of the Middle East, much sooner
Southern and central Arabia are directly
in the path of all of that monsoonal
moisture each year, and the only reason it does not rain, is because
of the atmospheric dust and lack of vegetation creating the hot
bare soils--but as you can see in Pakistan in 2010, the moisture
now has the power to overwhelm that blockage in a flash.
With the 5,000 year old monsoon moisture
barrier weakening, the annual rainfall
for the Arabian peninsula is likely to increase rapidly, to up
to one meter of rain a year or more during the May to November
monsoons. That rainfall could occur in huge rain events, like
in the past, as evidenced by the huge 100 meter deep ancient lake,
along with the monster river and waterfalls in the Empty Quarter.
TORRENTIAL RAIN and FLOOD events, prior
to 1985, were extremely rare on Arabian peninsula. Michael O. Walter (1989)
wrote a paper "A unique flood event in an arid zone."
in Hydrological Processes, 3: 15-24 about the April 23, 1985
flood event in SW of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that killed
32. Walter estimated at the time, that flood events in Arabia
were only expected to happened every 200 years or so.
Since 1985, flash flood rain events with
property damages and deaths have become annual events, or sometimes can be monthly summer events in some
years, as the torrential monsoonal moisture breaks through the
5,000 year old dust/heat barrier, as shown in the following list
(KSA = Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman = The Sultanate
You can see how the frequency and strength
of these events have increased over time. Videos of many of these flood events are available
1986-1991 - All Arabian Sea tropical storms
dissipated before making landfall on
the Arabian peninsula.
1992 - October 3=Oman, Cyclone Storm ARB 03, 50 mph. storm hit eastern Oman,
with no deaths and no damages.
1994 - June 5-9=Arabia sea, Severe Cyclone Storm ARB 02, dissipated over Oman
with no deaths or damages.
1995 - October 11-18=Arabian sea, Tropical Storm 02A, dissipated over the sea, before
striking the Arabian peninsula.
1996 - June 10-12=Oman,
the Tropical Storm 02A, total rainfall 300 mm (12 inches) and
was the first rainfall from a cyclone in that country for four
years, two deaths and livestock losses occurred.
1997 - No tropical
1998 - Dec. 17=Oman,
the Severe Cyclonic storm ARB 06, made landfall with winds 65
km/hr. and dissipated that day, no damages.
1999-2001 - No
2002 - April 8-13=KSA, Mecca floods. May
10=Oman, Salalah (Cyclone storm ARB 01) floods, heaviest rains in 30 years, creating rivers in the
wadis, damages total $25 million.. July 6-8=Yemen torrential
rains. July 24-26=Yemen floods. August 22-Sept. 6=Yemen
2003 - April 14-19=Oman flash flood. November
10-11=KSA flood, strongest rain in
2004 - Jan. 12-21=Yemen floods. April 8=Yemen,
heavy rains for several days. April
14=KSA, road, houses, bridges destroyed. August 3=KSA worst
floods in 45 years, inundate 40 valleys.
2005 - Jan. 22-27=Medina KSA, worst torrential storm to hit Kingdom in 20 years.
March 1-23=Riyadh, Oman and UAE floods.
2006 - Feb. 1=KSA, Jordan floods. February
20-23=Yemen flood. April 3-5=Yemen flash
floods and torrential rains.
2007 - Jan. 1-7=Yemen floods
destroys 600 homes. Feb. 13=Riyadh, KSA rain event. March 5=Kuwait
flood. March 23-30=Yemen flash floods. June 6=Oman flood (Super
Cyclone GONU) $4.2 billion damages, 24 inches (60 cm) of rainfall,
162 mph (260 km/hr.) winds before landfall, 78 died. Aug. 1-27=Yemen
2008 - Jan. 15=UAE flood. Oct. 23-24=Yemen
flood (Tropical Depression ARB 02/TC
03B) 1700 homes destroyed, 184 died, and $1 billion in damages.
Nov. 9=KSA flood in major cities.
2009 - Nov. 24-26=Jeddah floods, 3.5" of rain in a day, where there is only 2.2"
2010 - January 18-21=Eastern Egypt, worst flood in a decade, sweeping away 700 homes and
uprooted 27,000 trees in orchards. May 3-6=Riyadh KSA and Yemen
floods. May 21-22 Yemen island hit by Tropical cyclone
Bandu, destruction of many homes. June 4=Oman (Tropical
cyclone Phet) major flooding, 11.8" of rainfall and 125 mph
(200 Km/hr) winds, $780 million in damages. July 13=KSA
torrential rain. July 10-15=Yemen and KSA Jeddah flash
floods. July 23-25=KSA flash floods. July 15-August 30=Pakistan
floods, 10 inches rain in 24 hours in places, 2 million homes
destroyed, submerged 17 million acres farmland (Wikipedia).
Tropical Storm Keila hitting Oman on November 2-4, 2011.
Image from MODIS.
2011 - January 15=Jeddah received
41.7mm (1.5 inches) of rainfall in four hours. January 26=Jeddah
floods with 111 mm (4.3 inches) rainfall, 10 people died.
July 27=Pakistan, massive Indus river floods again, kills
199, damages one million homes, impacts five million people. August
29=Southern KSA and eastern Yemen, flooding rainfall. September
5-13=Pakistan, massive Indus river floods again. November
2-4=Oman and Yemen, Tropical Storm Keila was able to move
the atmospheric dust aside along the coast of Oman, and produced
torrential rainfall. Winds 63-119 km/hr., raining up to 50 mm
(2 inches) per hour in places that turned streets into rivers,
killing 14 people, 200 injured, and causing at least $50 million
in damages. November 8-10=Oman, Tropical Cyclone Four/ARB03,
torrential rains along the coast of Oman and the atmospheric dust
covers the Arabian peninsula and keeps this storm from going too
far inland, no damages, no injuries. November 26-30=KSA
heavy rainfall in eastern portion of the country. Cyclone 05A
forms and the atmospheric dust over the Arabian peninsula keeps
it offshore of Oman, where it dissipates, no damages. This is
the fifth cyclone to visit Oman in only four years.
2012 - April 11-18=Southern KSA and the
Empty Quarter, Aseer province, heavy rain, flooding,
wind, hail, snow, killing 18, 12 missing. The
story from Alarabiya with picture of
street floods formerly at http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/04/12/207189.html
This weather is called unprecedented, but is the result of a new
subtropical cyclone and storm track coming from Brazil moving
eastward across the Atlantic to Arabia, that is described below.
Also in Oman six killed by floods in wadis. July 22=Lahore,
Pakistan, streets flood from heavy monsoon rains.
2013 - January 27-29=KSA Tabuk, floods
caused by a new storm track coming from the south, from the East
coast of Africa. March 21-26=KSA southern Jazan province,
three swept away in floods (Saudi Gazette) http://www.saudigazette.com.sa
Several roads were flooded or damaged in heavy rains that lashed
Jazan region, again from the new storm track from Brazil, and
Yemen reports six people died in Hadramout governorate, with
the Dawan, Wadi Al-Ain, Al-Qatan, Shebam, Tareem, Sah and Sayoon
areas were all partially under water due to the floods.
Roads in Al-Soairi and Moshtaa areas are still blocked (Yemen
>>>LIST OF TORRENTIAL STORMS CONTINUED at http://www.ecoseeds.com/cool2.html
In 2013, new spring storm tracks are bringing floods to
the Arabian peninsula, filling valleys with flood waters, in the
wadis that have not seen flowing waters for centuries.
(Information from internet news reports, Wikipedia, NOAA
State of Climate, Global Hazards , and the Dartmouth
NEW SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE STORM
BELT in March-April 2011 forming off Brazil... and headed straight
for Saudi Arabia.
Earthweek reports at http://www.earthweek.com/2011/ew110318/ew110318e.html
that a new subtropical cyclone belt may be forming off the coast
of Brazil in March and April, perhaps as the result of global
The potential impact on the Arabian peninsula, is that when
the cyclone moisture moves eastward to central Africa, it then
travels diagonally to the middle of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
and then on to India. Images of the clouds and water vapor taken
on April 9, 2011, below:
UPDATE APRIL, 2012. New spring Arabia
flood rainfall pattern, coming from South America to
Arabia. This new track is already putting enough water into huge
lake bed in the Empty Quarter, that the changes can been seen
by NASA satellite photos.
The following is a NASA
report of the event, where Torrential rains caused flooding in
parts of Saudi Arabia and Oman in mid- to late April 2012. News
reports blamed the floods for damaged buildings, washed out roads,
18 deaths, and about 12 people missing. As of April 21, police
and air force personnel were engaged in search-and-rescue operations.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on
NASA's Terra satellite observed evidence of flooding along the
borders between Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Oman in
April 2012. MODIS captured an image on April 9 and on April 18.
These images use a combination of visible and infrared light to
better distinguish between water and land. Water appears in shades
of blue-green, and bare ground appears in shades of pink-beige.
Isolated clouds appear in pale blue-green and cast shadows.
The images from April 18 [below] showed large areas of water
and wet sand extending from southeastern Saudi Arabia into western
Oman. In addition, Umm as Samim (or Umm al Samim), a salt pan
in Oman, apparently holds more water on April 18.
This region includes part of the Empty Quarter or Rub' al Khali.
In this vast sand sea, salt flats often separate towering dunes,
and much of the water visible on April 18 probably rests on those
flat areas. Some of the salt flats are paved with roads, and standing
water left at least one of those roads impassable.
The flood water might have flowed into the region from the
southwestern Empty Quarter, and from the mountains of Oman. Ground
water often feeds perennial lakes in this region, and in April
2012, Umm as Samim might have been both a destination for flood
water flowing over the surface and a source of upwelling ground
Few people associate the Empty Quarter with heavy rain, but
G. Robert Brakenridge of the Flood Observatory at the University
of Colorado explains: "Flooding is actually surprisingly
common, despite how arid the region is, and is often deadly."
Brakenridge produced a flood
map of this region, covering April 16-25, 2012.
Blue and green shown in this NASA photo, is where the ancient
lake bed in the Empty Quarter in April 2012, was starting to see
some moisture accumulating from the unusual rainfall. The Umm
as Samim is the lowest point of the ancient lake bed, that was
once covered with water over 100 meters deep.
Flood events Arabian peninsula, by month, 2002-2010,
from Dartmouth Flood Archives.
Below, shows the monsoonal clouds on July 28, 2010, looks
like a fist at the end of an arm over the Arabian peninsula, breaking
through the heat/dust barrier, during the Pakistan floods.
Left: Nice native perennial grass cover with shrubs at 24N 31E.
Photo from the Confluence project.
Right: THE VERY BEST example of native acacia/grassland
habitat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so far. This shows the
potential, what the Arabian peninsula could look like after a
program of annual ecological restoration is begun. Photo from
the Confluence Project, taken at 18N 42E.
Using ground photos taken around the Arabian peninsula,
it would be possible to evaluate the potential for ecological
restoration at various points, by viewing the current conditions
of the natural vegetation, soils, etc.
Photos from the northern portion of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, from 23-31 degrees north latitude can be seen at http://www.ecoseeds.com/Saudi_northmega.html
and the southern portion from 18 to 22 degrees north latitude,
can be seen at http://www.ecoseeds.com/Saudi_mega.html
Each photo site is rated on an Ecological Restoration (ER)
scale from zero to 4, based on each site's Ecological Restoration
0 = No native vegetation is visible, and no soil with organic
1= < 1% cover; or zero cover, but organic matter still appears
to be in the soil.
2 = Fair plant cover.
3 = Good plant cover.
4 = Excellent plant cover, should be preserved as an ecological
See evaluation of the Sultanate
of Oman for ecological restoration potentials.
WHERE IS ALL THIS ATMOSPHERIC HEAT COMING
It is generally known that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases trap heat in the atmosphere, but how did the heat get there in the first place?
Some of that heat is reflecting off bare soil in hot, arid
areas. Looking at the images below, you can see that the Arabian
peninsula contributes about 1/5th of the heat coming off the planet's
Above: Outgoing radiation http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/images/olr/olr.seasonal.gif
and there is an animated website at http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/images/fnl/olr_90.fnl.anim.html
Above, another method is to look at the global surface temperatures,
like the May 1994 image from www.nasaimages.org at NASA/Goddard
Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, where the
bare soils of desert regions are lit up blazing hot.
THE HOT-ARID AREAS OF THE WORLD
are major contributors of heat towards global warming of the planet,
whether they are in Afghanistan, the Arabian peninsula, or the
Mojave and Sonoran "desert" areas of the United States.
These bare arid areas, which were formerly perennial grasslands,
and unfortunately also act as the shut-off valves in the world's
Ecological restoration of these areas could be the easiest
and fastest-acting action to help mitigate global warming, and
could help in the flow of a global rainfall cycle, that the northern
hemisphere crop lands depend on.
DEW POINT? What is dew point? It
is the air temperature when water precipitates out, either as
rain, snow or as dew.
What happens when the night-time dew point temperatures
rising even a few degrees? There's been much talk about the
global maximum temperatures rising, due to global warming. However,
if nighttime temperatures raise even a few degrees above the
dew point, then precipitation doesn't fall, and that is probably
what is keeping the monsoon rain from falling in the summer in
the Middle East and North Africa.
TEN EFFORTS that could help
bring the dew point closer to the air temperature, eliminate sand
storms, and manage the expected increase in rainfall:
(1.) PLANT CITIES WITH NATIVE SHADE TREES. Planting the cities
of the Arabian peninsula with native shade trees, like the native
Acacia, and other native Arabian trees that do not need
irrigation to thrive.
(2.) NO GRAZING AROUND CITIES. Eliminating any grazing of rangelands
within a 50 mile (30 km) radius around each city.
(3.) ECOLOGICAL PRESERVES. Establish permanent Ecological Restoration
preserves in the Empty Quarter and other barren parts of the Arabian
peninsula, and begin the densely replanting of the local native
perennial grasses, forbs, wildflower and native trees to shade
the bare soils in the summer. No grazing allowed within Ecological
Restoration preserves, but mineral or oil development continues
in those areas.
(4.) GROW OUT IN BULK the native Arabian seeds. There are
hundreds of kinds of native plants from Arabia, that will be needed
to be grown out in bulk, to have seeds to replant the lands. A
first start, would be to plant the native seeds to eliminate the
sand storms that sweep across Arabia each year. A list of natives,
with the best species to start with, are marked in brown, can
be downloaded at http://www.ecoseeds.com/Flora-SaudiArabia.html
(5.) ELIMINATE ATMOSPHERIC DUST. Sow local native plant seeds
around the towns and cities, to cover the soil surface with as
much native vegetation as possible, to lower the amount of dust
blown into the atmosphere, and the roots act to absorb the rainfall
to eliminate flash floods.
(6.) INSTALL SOLAR PANELS on every flat-roofed building around
the Middle East, to shade the buildings and cooling their roofs
so they do not reflect the heat of the roofs back into the atmosphere,
plus cutting back on the "heat-island" effect that cities
produce, shade of the panels cooling the buildings, plus capturing
the solar energy to produce electricity. Also cover all of the
large car parking lot, to shade the pavement and the parked cars.
(7.) RELOCATE BUILDINGS out of the bottom of wadis, and
preserve the bottoms as public open spaces or parks, and replant
the wadi bottoms with native wetlands vegetation, to slow down
any torrential rains water flows, and in anticipation that the
rivers will start flowing again.
These public parks and open spaces at the bottom of the
wadis, will give the waters from rainstorms a place to flow, without
danger to lives or property. Like the ten year restoration project
of Wadi Hanifah in south Riyadh, written about in Saudi
Aramco World January/February 2012.
(8.) BUILD STORM DRAINS and DRAINAGE CANALS and sewage systems
for all Arabian peninsula cities, and build all the sewage system
so that they are completely separated from the storm drain system.
Mentioned in the Reuters 2011 article about the January 2011 Jeddah
(9.) CONVERT a portion of the MILITARY BUDGETS to Ecological
Restoration? It does not make sense to spend huge amounts on military
budgets, to guard a degrading environment that is becoming more
and more inhospitable for human life?
When the countries of the Arabian Peninsula start investing
in Ecological Restoration of their lands, then at least the lands
will become more livable--Getting more regular annual rainfall,
eliminating dust storms, slowing down the torrential rains and
floods, lowering the summer maximum temperatures, having the grass
and trees grow again, and the rivers flow again, after a 5,000
(10.) VISITOR DONATIONS TO PLANT NATIVE SEEDS and NATIVE
PLANTS? The Arabian peninsula has over nine million visitors each
year, just in the KSA for the Hajj, Ramadan and for Umrah. What
if Ecological Restoration of Arabia, to help the native grasses
and native trees grow and the streams and rivers to flow, was
something that the visitors could make a donation towards?
When the dew point is within a few degrees
of your air temperature, then you can get precipitation.
The already existing low pressure area sitting over the Middle
East from spring to fall, combined with a change in the dew point,
you have the potential of a whole lot of rainfall. By making an
investment in modifying the ecological conditions of the land
with revegetation, you could change the dew point, so precipitation
could start to occur, after a 2,000-6,000 year absence.
NATIVE PERENNIAL GRASSES> INSULATE the soil in the daytime from the
sun's heat> LESS solar heat is absorbed> LOWER
daytime and night time air temperatures> DEW POINT
gets close to air temperature = RAINFALL.
CHECKLIST of Arabia
it be raining in Arabia or North Africa today?
(1.) Check for water vapor in area, as shown at http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/comp/wv/LATEST_WV.gif
Image of water vapor
A.) Water vapor absent--very low possibility of rain.
B.) Water vapor PRESENT, possibility of rain in area, go to
(2.) Barometric pressure
(2.) BAROMETRIC PRESSURE--
A.) Above 30.10 inches, close to zero possibility of rainfall, and strong
winds, dust storms possible.
B.) Below 30.00 inches, better possibility, but weather usually
calm at this pressure.
C.) Below 29.80 inches very good possibility of rainfall, go to
(3.) When Barometer is BELOW 29.80 inches, check DEW POINT, example below:
A.) Dew point, more than 10 degrees F.
away from the air temp., probably no rainfall, and possibility of strong winds
and dust storms likely, the further away the barometer is below
B.) DEW POINT is within 1-5 degrees of the air temp, it should
be raining, like shown in the chart above.
Image above: NAAPS Current, Indian
Ocean image of dust over Arabia
(4.) ATMOSPHERIC DUST, at http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil,
top frame, the"Big Table", hit link on table at NAAPS
A.) If DUST is present, that can be a huge factor interfering with rainfall/cloud
formation.The lowest concentration of dust that the NAAPS image
shows, >20ug/m3, is robust enough in summer to interfere with
monsoon cloud formation and rainfall. If it should be raining
according to the local barometric pressure or dew point, check
for atmospheric dust as a factor, keeping the clouds or rain away.
(5.) CREATING CLOUDS and RAINFALL. Therefore, if water vapor is present in the area,
and the barometer is below 29.80", and it is not raining--then
it could be raining if the dew point could be improved so that
it falls within 1-5 degrees of the air temperature--For example,
if the amount of atmospheric dust could be lowered.
RAINFALL PROJECT PRODUCES RESULTS in Abu Dhabi. Arabian
Business News reports from an article in the UK Sunday Times,
that scientists working for the Abu Dhabi government, have created
more than 50 rainstorms in Al Ain in July and August of 2010,
during the peak of
the emirate's summer months. This $11 million project, reportedly
commissioned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President
of the UAE, used ionisers to generate storms, producing rainfall
on 52 days when the country's own weather service had predicted
no clouds and no rain.
ARTWORK about the return of the summer monsoonal
Title: "Design for a New Flag, for one of the desert countries
located between India and Morocco, to start to harvest the summer
monsoonal moisture that is passing over each season, by replanting
the local native trees like the Acacia shown in the image, plus
replant and protect the local native perennial grasses, to cool
the soil surface, lower the atmospheric dust, and encourage the
clouds to form, the rain to fall, and the streams to flow again."
Digital image, taken from the 8" x 10" acrylic
on canvas. Painting #20 in catalogue. Copyright image and text
© 2012 by Craig Carlton Dremann, all right reserved.
Title: "Arabia's ancient rivers are about to flow again,
after ecological restoration of the native grasses, wildflowers
and trees begins, and this vase is created to hold and celebrate
the return of the blooming wildflowers that live again after a
6,000 year absence."
Ceramic flower vase, 5" x 7" #30 in catalogue.
Copyright image and
text © 2012 by Craig Carlton Dremann, all right reserved.
Title: "WHEN RIVERS FLOW AGAIN in Arabia, a vase to
dip into that lovely, life-giving water that has been missed for
Cermaic vase, 5" x 8" artifact #42 in catalogue. Copyright
image and text © 2012 by Craig Carlton Dremann, all right
What is the possibility of setting aside barren
arid lands as Ecological Restoration preserves, and replanting
the local native perennial grasses and native trees, to act as
a natural sunscreen, to shade the bare earth from absorbing the
sun's heat? What if this native plant sunscreen could be applied
to one billion acres worldwide?
And could those areas be utilized, to sequester
atmospheric carbon in the soil?
Website: Formerly at http://www.iucn.org/themes/wani/eatlas/html/gm10.html
- "[Map] 10 - Dryland Area by Basin Watersheds of
the World : Global Maps"---IUCN -The World Conservation
Union.---"Drylands, because of their extensive
area, can store large amounts of carbon, most of it in the soil
rather than in vegetation. Improving the carbon storage capacity
of drylands may be one method to help offset global warming by
lowering CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere."
Article: Carbon sequestration potential
of reclaimed desert soils in Egypt at http://orgprints.org/16438/
Luske, Boki and van der Kamp , Joris (2009)
Carbon sequestration potential of reclaimed desert soils in Egypt.
The objective of this study was to investigate the carbon storage
potential of reclaimed soils under organic management. Agricultural
soils are often mentioned as a potential carbon sink. However,
until now the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change) does not issue certified emission reductions (CERs) for
carbon sequestration in soils.
This research focuses on carbon stock development of reclaimed
desert soils in Egypt. The research was conducted on two farms
owned by Sekem, one of which located 60 km north-east of Cairo,
and the other one in the Sinai desert. Five agricultural fields
of different ages (1-30 years in use) were selected and compared
with the surrounding desert.
In every field, representative soil samples were collected from
3 line transects, each consisting of 5 sample points. The samples
were taken at three horizons; 0-10 cm, 10-30 cm and 30-50 cm,
and tested for differences in physical (soil texture and bulk
density), and chemical (acidity, salinity and organic carbon levels)
The results show that reclaimed desert soils under organic management
sequester carbon very rapidly in the first few years after land
reclamation, but that this rate decreases after several years,
following a logarithmic curve.
The increase in soil carbon was first measured in the top soil
(0-10 cm) and then in deeper soil layers. The bulk density of
the top soil layer decreased at the same time.
The results show that in 30 years of organic agriculture, the
soil carbon stock increased from 3.9 to 28.8-31.8 tons C/ha, a
raise of ca 24.9-27.9 t C/ha. On average, the soil stored 0.9
t C/ha/y in these 30 years. Thus, an atmospheric CO2 reduction
of 3.2 tons CO2-equivalents per ha per year had taken place.
Abu Zinada, Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz H. 2002. First Saudi Arabian
National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity. Pub.
The National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development.
PDF file, originally on the web at http://www.biodiv.org/doc/world/sa/sa-nr-01-en.pdf
BASE MAP: The World" 1998 scale 1:30,000,000 at the equator,
published by the Dept. of Defense, National Imagery and Mapping
Agency. Distributed by the US Geological Survey.
Clark, Arthur. 1989."Lakes of the Rub' al-Khali"
Aramco World. http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198903/lakes.of.the.rub.al-khali.htm
DISCOVER magazine, July 1993 article "A river in the desert
- Remote sensing photo locate ancient river in Arabian peninsula".
DISCOVER magazine, April 2012 article, "The Clouds
are Alive" by Douglas Fox, pages 38-44.
Eltahir, Elfatih. website: Pilot
Study on Biosphere - Atmosphere Interaction in Dhofar MIT
study of rainfall/vegetation connection around Salalah, Sultanate
Heady, Harold F. 1972. "Ecological Consequences of
Bedouin Settlement in Saudi Arabia" in The Careless Technology:
Ecology and International Development, edited by M. Taghi and
John P. Milton, pages 683-693. Natural History Press, New York.
Online formerly at http://uicn.org/themes/ceesp/Publications/SL/CT/Chapter%2036%20-%20The%20Careless%20Technology.pdf
Philby, H. St. John B. 1933. The Empty Quarter: Being a
description of the Great South Desert of Arabia known as Rub'
al Khali. Henry Holt & Co., NY 432 pages. Call No. DS247 R8
Sirocko, F. et al. 1993. Century-scale events in monsoon climate
over the past 24,000 years. NATURE 364: 322
Thompson, Lonnie G. et al. 2002. Kilimanjaro Ice Core Records:
Evidence of Holocene Climate Change in Tropical Africa. SCIENCE.
Van Campo, E. et al. 1982. Climatic conditions deducted from a
150-kyr oxygen isotope-pollen record from the Arabian Sea. NATURE
March 4, 1982, 296: 56-59.
Wang, G. and Eltahir, E., 2000. Role of Vegetation Dynamics
in Enhancing the Low-Frequency Variability of the Sahel Rainfall.
Water Resources Research, VOL. 36, NO. 4, PP. 1013-1021, at http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2000/1999WR900361.shtml
Walter, Michael O. (1989). A unique flood event in an arid
zone. Hydrological Processes, 3: 15-24
Website: Formerly at http://southport.jpl.nasa.gov/ProgressReports0496/Dabbagh.Final.html
Dabbagh, Abdallah E. et al. 1996. "Geologic
and Hydrologic Studies of Saudi Arabia Under the Spaceborne Imaging
Radar-C (SIR-C) Science Plan."
Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, for global
images of Salalah, Oman.
Webpage: http://weather.noaa.gov/weather/SA_cc.html for
dew points, and barometric pressure was decommissioned August
for atmospheric dust.
for megatransect pictures
for megatransect ecosystem pictures
for movie of 2006 vapor.
movie of floods
Website: Formerly at http://southport.jpl.nasa.gov/ProgressReports0496/gifs/dabbagh11.gif
"Figure 11 - Pleistocene drainage of Arabian Peninsula."
--Photo of "Ram in Thicket", Museum of the University
of Pennsylvania, the story of its conservation.
shows the drought impact on the United States when the global
summer precipitation has been blocked upstream.
Univ. of Wisconsin's Land & Oceans Temps.
, University of Wisonsin's Indian Ocean satellite view of monsoon
, University of Wisconsin's World Water Vapor
State of Climate, Global Hazards for flood event data
Flood archives for flood event data.
for movie of 2008 Arabian storm
Ptolemy"s map of Arabia.
, composite of NASA Landsat images of Saudi Arabia.
stature from Ur.
- Outgoing radiation.
- Outgoing radiation movie.
Website: Website taken down = http://eob.gsfc.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=4900
- NASA Earth Observatory, "Central Sahara: A Wet Past"
image of Cyclone Phet.
Website: Reuters 2011 article, about the January 2011 Jeddah
floods. From http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/economics/jeddah-floods-a-real-drain-on-its-economy
Contact: Craig C. Dremann, Director of The Reveg Edge, Box
361, Redwood City, Ca 94064 USA email
(650) 325-7333, Web = http://www.ecoseeds.com/greatbasin.html
to see photos of an arid grassland restored. Developing
licensed native grassland restoration technologies since 1972.