UAE: Use of Space Images for Groundwater Exploration in the Northern United Arab Emirates

Principal Investigator: Farouk El-Baz

Co-Investigators: Magaly Koch, Cordula Robinson, Artem Buynevich

Research Assistants: Eman Ghoneim

Graduate Students: Mutlu Ozdogan, Irina Harris

Sponsor: Government of Sharjah, U.A.E.

Duration: June 2001 – June 2006

Project Summary:

This project is aimed at applying innovative approaches to identify the potential of ground water resources in the Northern Emirates, including Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah (U.A.E.).

It starts with the acquisition, enhancement and analysis of satellite images of the Northern Emirates for the identification of potential sites for new ground water resources. The analysis will emphasize the potential of ground water from two unconventional sources: (1) networks of fracture zones in the highlands based on the study of multi-spectral images; and (2) buried courses of former rivers and streams that are revealed by radar waves, which penetrate the sand cover in the desert plains of the Northern Emirates.

In the first phase, the scientific research will utilize all applicable data on the Emirate of Sharjah, pertaining to the geology, topography, structure, drainage, climate, etc. These data will be correlated with satellite image interpretations in the process of site selection. Field work will also be conducted to verify the appropriateness of selected sites, particularly to ascertain the porosity and permeability of the identified structures. A digital geographic information system (GIS) database will accompany the Final Report on the research results.

The project includes the training of two nationals from Sharjah including the granting of an M.S. degree from Boston University to selected applicants that satisfy the academic requirements. Other U.A.E. nationals will also be trained on field work methods and techniques.

The research will be performed at the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing, which has conducted similar projects in desert environments. It requires three years for completion, with the Final Report on Sharjah at the end of the second year and on the rest of the Northern Emirates during the third year.