Spatio-temporal Evolution of Coastal Sabkhas in Arid Rapid Urban Development Area of Kuwait

Adeeba Al-Hurban(1), Jasem A Albanai(2*)

(1) Earth & Environmental Sciences Dept., Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait
(2) Marine Monitoring Section, Water Quality Monitoring Department, Environmental Public Authority, Kuwait and Department of Mathematics and Geosciences, University of Trieste, Italy
(*) Corresponding Author


Sabkha is the Arabic term meaning "salt flat". It is usually used to describe coastal flat areas extending above the high tide level and which are evaporate-rich clastic sediments. In Kuwait, sabkhas exist along the southern and northern coastal areas. Previous studies did not discuss the chronological changes of the coastal sabkhas in Kuwait, especially the northern sabkhas, where the Government of the State of Kuwait plans urban expansion to the North to achieve Kuwait Vision 2035. This current study aims to detect the geomorphological, spatial, and temporal evolution of coastal sabkhas in Kuwait using remote sensing data and Geographic Information System (GIS) methods. Landsat satellite images were used to study the distribution and evolution of the sabkhas across Kuwait's coasts. The selected images from Landsat MSS 1985 (before the gulf war), Landsat ETM+ 2002 (after the war), and Landsat OLI 2022 (current form) have been classified using the IsoData unsupervised classification method that takes into account near and short infrared radiation. The classification accuracy was validated for 2022 images using the Kappa coefficient, where the value was 0.81. The results showed that sabkhas in Kuwait have changed geomorphologically; anthropogenic activities and urban expansion have certainly influenced this change to cope with socioeconomic demands.The area of the sabkhas shrank from 1,267 to 1,019 km2 (-17%). The results also showed that the southern sabkhas of Kuwait are declining significantly, from 207km2 in 1985 to 52km2 in 2022. The current study presents a methodology to study the spatio-temporal evolution of sabkhas in dry areas around the world, using spatial analysis and in the context of the rapid urban development that the world is witnessing.



Quaternary Deposits; Desert Geomorphology; GIS; Remote Sensing; Sabkhas

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