At present, the Arabian Peninsula is one of the driest regions on Earth; however, this area experienced heavy rainfall in the past thousand years. During this period, catchments received substantial amounts of surface water and sustained vast networks of streams and paleolakes, which are currently inactive. The Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array Type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data reveal paleohydrologic features buried under shallow aeolian deposits in many areas of the ad-Dawasir, Sahba, Rimah/Batin, and as-Sirhan wadis. Optical remote-sensing data support that the middle of the trans-peninsula Wadi Rimah/Batin, which extends for ~1200 km from the Arabian Shield to Kuwait and covers ~200,000 km2
, is dammed by linear sand dunes formed by changes in climate conditions. Integrating Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), Geo-Eye, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model, and ALOS/PALSAR data allowed for the characterization of paleodrainage reversals and diversions shaped by structural and volcanic activity. Evidence of streams abruptly shifting from one catchment to another is preserved in Wadi ad-Dawasir along the fault trace. Volcanic activity in the past few thousand years in northern Saudi Arabia has also changed the slope of the land and reversed drainage systems. Relics of earlier drainage directions are well maintained as paleoslopes and wide upstream patterns. This study found that paleohydrologic activity in Saudi Arabia is impacted by changes in climate and by structural and volcanic activity, resulting in changes to stream direction and activity. Overall, the integration of radar and optical remote-sensing data is significant for deciphering past hydrologic activity and for predicting potential water resource areas.
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