A better understanding of the spatiotemporal distribution of water resources is crucial for the sustainable development of hyper-arid regions. Here, we focus on the Arabian Peninsula (AP) and use remotely sensed data to (i) analyze the local climatology of total water storage (TWS), precipitation, and soil moisture; (ii) characterize their temporal variability and spatial distribution; and (iii) infer recent trends and change points within their time series. Remote sensing data for TWS, precipitation, and soil moisture are obtained from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), respectively. The study relies on trend analysis, the modified Mann–Kendall test, and change point detection statistics. We first derive 10-year (2002–2011) seasonal averages from each of the datasets and intercompare their spatial organization. In the absence of large-scale in situ data, we then compare trends from GRACE TWS retrievals to in situ groundwater observations locally over the subdomain of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). TWS anomalies vary between −6.2 to 3.2 cm/month and −6.8 to −0.3 cm/month during the winter and summer periods, respectively. Trend analysis shows decreasing precipitation trends (−2.3 × 10−4
mm/day) spatially aligned with decreasing soil moisture trends (−1.5 × 10−4
/month) over the southern part of the AP, whereas the highest decreasing TWS trends (−8.6 × 10−2
cm/month) are recorded over areas of excessive groundwater extraction in the northern AP. Interestingly, change point detection reveals increasing precipitation trends pre- and post-change point breaks over the entire AP region. Significant spatial dependencies are observed between TRMM and GRACE change points, particularly over Yemen during 2010, revealing the dominant impact of climatic changes on TWS depletion.
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