Atlas of the State of Kuwait from Satellite Images

Principal Investigator: Farouk El-Baz

Co-Investigator: Magaly Koch

Research Assistant: Lynne Fielding

Graduate Students: Abdel Gadir Abu Elgasim, Ahmad Al-Doasari

Sponsor: Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS)

Duration: 1994 – 1996

Project Summary:

Space exploration has increased our understanding of the universe in numerous ways. Photographs of the Earth obtained by both manned and unmanned spacecraft represent one of the most tangible results of the space program. The expansive view and the unique perspective allow the representation of regional patterns as well as the depiction of surface feature details.

The first part of the Atlas is devoted to a brief background and a description of the various types of satellite images and their acquisition by space platforms. This is followed by a general description of the Arabian Peninsula, because the natural environment of Kuwait is part of the general setting of Arabia.

Part two of the Atlas deals with specifics of the environment of Kuwait, both the physical characteristics of the natural setting and the features resulting from human activities throughout the period of recorded human occupation of the land area of Kuwait. Thus, the first sections deal with the geography, topography, archaeology, history of Kuwait City, climatic patterns and weather. These are followed by sections that deal with the nature of the land including the geology, stratigraphy, structures, seismicity, geomorphology, surface sediments, and wind-blown features. The segments after that relate to the natural resources, namely the mineral, oil and water resources. Next are sections that deal with the biological features including rangelands, plants, animals and birds. The last sections describe the coastal features, coastal waters, coral reefs and fisheries of Kuwait. Although little could be added by satellite images on some of these aspects, their inclusion is necessary because they represent significant features of the environment of Kuwait.

The next part of the Atlas is devoted to the environmental effects of the Gulf War. Emphasis here is placed on the geological impacts of the Gulf War, particularly, on the natural desert surface. Some of the findings represent new understanding of the desert terrain and its fragility. For example, it was learned that disturbances by military activities of the desert pavement, a one-grain-thick layer of pebbles on the surface, resulted in the mobilization of enormous amounts of soil by the action of wind. Also, it was realized that sand dunes formed in a very short period from the time of exposure of fine-grained soil to the shamal winds.

Part Four of the Atlas includes a classification of the geographic provinces of Kuwait. Kuwait is divided here into northern, western, southern, and coastal provinces, followed by a section on the islands of Kuwait.

The last part of the Atlas gives the sources of the data for those readers who wish to acquire more information about the various topics which were presented.