Collaborative ResearchCollaborative Research

Active Flagship Research Projects


Climate, Water, and the Environment in Arid Regions

MIT Professors: Elfatih Eltahir, Dara Entekhabi, and Dennis B. McLaughlin

Masdar Institute Professors:Taha B.M.J. Ouarda, Annalisa Molini, Hosni Ghedira, and Inas Khayal


The theme for the project is the impact of climate variability and change on sustainable human habitability in arid regions (UAE and surrounding countries). In UAE, the project will emphasize three environmental indicators: (1) Heat stress; (2) Dust storms; (3) Seasonal precipitation deficits, and (4) Gulf water quality.

The premise is that current climate models used to assess future conditions in arid regions have major shortcomings in key processes that determine the arid lands response to natural and anthropogenic forcing. The approach of the proposed project is to use historical analogues (historical natural variability) for two purposes:

  • Create performance benchmarks for regional climate models, and
  • Develop analogue sensitivity analysis and forecast models.

In the modeling front, nested regional models of climate system will be assembled and tested with the benchmark of historical extreme cases. A hydro‐climatic database will be developed to facilitate exchange and use of research data. The project will develop a suite of models, data sets, and analytical tools to quantitatively assess the impact of climate variability and change in arid regions. These model predictions will provide information needed to support the decision making process in a number of fields including water resources management, public health planning and renewable energy development.


The field of renewable energy development needs estimates of radiation, wind, temperature, etc. for the estimation of the future potential of wind and solar energy in the UAE and the whole region.

Additionally, the optimal management of water resources requires the duration, intensity and volume of rainstorms (for the design of urban drainage networks) and the intermittence, duration, volume and magnitude of stream-flows in Wadis (for the design of water retention structures), to give a few examples. The direct socio-economic and environmental impacts of research activities are hence extremely important and vital for the UAE.

Results from this research in this project should help bring Abu Dhabi closer to its goals of increased welfare, security and sustainability for its people and their future.