In this study, multi-temporal satellite images combined with rainfall data and field observations were used to assess the spatial and temporal changes in urban flooding and urban water harvesting potential in the coastal city of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the period from 1976 to 2016. During the study period, the population increased by approximately 14-fold with about a 4-fold increase in built areas. Being in a hot, dry region with average rainfall of about 100 mm/year, the city did not invest in a comprehensive drainage infrastructure. As a result, the frequency, extent and risk associated with urban floods increased significantly. The expansion of built areas progressively increased the impervious land cover in the city, decreasing the minimum precipitation required to generate runoff by approximately 32% and significantly increasing the runoff coefficient. In parallel to rapid urbanization, the urban rainwater harvesting potential significantly increased over 1976–2016. Urban flood maps were generated using three thematic factors: excess rain, land elevation and land slope. The flood maps were confirmed by locating urban flood locations in the field using GPS. This study demonstrates the impact of urbanization through assessing the relationship between urbanization, runoff, local floods and rainwater harvesting potential in Sharjah and provides a basis for developing sustainable urban storm water management practices for the city and similar cities.
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