The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago of around 40 low-laying islands (although some might argue that there are currently over 84 natural and man made islands combined) and harbours numerous shoals and patches of reefs situated centrally off the southern coastline of the Arabian Gulf. Located between the eastern shore of Saudi Arabia and the western coast of the Qatar Peninsula, Bahrain occupies a total land mass of about 770 km² accompanied by a coastline of 126 km and approximately 7,499 km² of territorial waters (CIO, 2013).
The terrestrial landscape in Bahrain is predominately arid desert with limited inland waters along with outcroppings of limestone structures that form low hills and cliffs. These support some desert vegetation, mainly thorn trees and scrubs due to the saline sand soil. The highest point on Bahrain’s main island rises to 134 meters clearly marked by the presence of Jabal Al Dukhan also known as the Mountain of Smoke because of the black mist that often engulfs it.
Despite the predominant desert habitat, it is important to note that the northern coast of the main island consists of a five-kilometer wide fertile strip, which is recorded to have grown various fruits such as dates, almonds, pomegranate, figs and olive trees. Despite prevailing harsh physical conditions, Bahrain’s marine biotopes are diverse and include extensive sea grass beds and mudflats, patchy coral reefs as well as offshore islands.
Area of the Kingdom of Bahrain (2009-2013) DOWNLOAD
Bahrain is predominantly subtropical and features an arid climate, characterised by high temperature and humidity levels. It has two main seasons – hot and humid summers with relatively mild winters.
Mean air temperature fluctuates between 14°C and 41°C, and the annual rainfall is in the range of 20-98 mm. The average relative humidity is known to have reached over 90% however, between 2009-2013, records show that humidity levels were between 42 – 67%. The Shamal (winds from the south east) is known to bring damp air over the lands between December and March.
Average of Temperatures and Humidity (2009-2013) DOWNLOAD
Average Rainfall (2009-2013) DOWNLOAD
Seawater temperatures are known to fluctuate between 15-35°C whilst salinity levels are known to be high (43-45 psu) (Van Lavieren et al., 2011; Nasr, 2012)
The only natural freshwater source present in Bahrain is provided by groundwater. It is obtained from the Dammam aquifer, a large transboundary groundwater system that extends from central Saudi Arabia to the Arabian Gulf waters, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Southern Qatar, UAE and Oman. In addition, the aquifer crops out in central Saudi Arabia where its main recharge area is also located (Bahrain’s Second National Communication Report, 2012).
There are two major zones within the Dammam aquifer in Bahrain namely: the upper “Alat” zone (15-20 meters thick) which has limited hydraulic properties and currently experiences high levels of salinization and the lower “Khobar” zone (40-49 meters thick) which is developed in highly fractured limestone and dolomites which in turn also provides the majority of the groundwater supply for Bahrain (Bahrain’s Second National Communication Report, 2012).
- Bahrain’s Second National Communication Report (2012) Under the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Public Comission for Protection of Marine Resrouces, Environment and Wildlife, Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Central Informatics Organisation (2014) Statistics – Climate. Last accessed: 24 December 2014 <www.cio.gov.bh>
- Coastal and Marine Environments in Bahrain: Anthropogenic Impacts and Conservation Measures – Dr. Humood Naser (2012) – Littoral 2012: Coasts for Tomorrow, Belgium
- Van Lavieren et al. (2011). Managing the growing impacts of development on fragile coastal and marine ecosystems: Lessons from the Gulf. UNU-INWEH, Hamilton, ON, Canada.