2023 Global Water Monitor Report shows several climate records for Saudi Arabia

In its second annual Global Water Monitor Report, the Global Water Monitor Consortium, which includes KAUST) Assistant Professor Hylke Beck, reports that 77 of 249 countries experienced their hottest years on record in 2023. For Saudi Arabia, 2023 was its third hottest, with 2021 setting the record. However, 2023 was its highest for precipitation in more than 20 years.

The Global Water Monitor Report describes the water cycle across the globe using satellite data collected and interpreted by its authors. This year's report adds to the number of parameters studied compared with the previous one. It also highlights 19 regions that experienced extreme changes in water-related climate factors, such as flooding, fires, droughts and more.  

Other notable findings include the frequency of record hottest months being the highest ever and nearly two times higher than the previous record. For Saudi Arabia, vegetation vigor, or “greenness,” was also its highest in since 2001, and for Saudi Arabia, it reached a record high in 2023: almost 8% higher than the long-term average (2001–2023). This greening was widespread across the country and especially pronounced in ranges along the southern Red Sea coast. In addition, January and May saw the highest precipitation levels ever recorded for those two months in Saudi Arabia (1979-2023).

"As the vegetation in the country is generally constrained by water availability, this increase in greenness can be primarily attributed to the higher levels of rainfall experienced this year," explained Beck.

Overall, the report provides a straightforward summary of where global water resources stand today, highlighting the key challenges and developments of 2023, and is intended for all stakeholders, not just scientists. The findings underscore the growing threat posed by climate change, including groundwater depletion.

"The consortium's next step is to keep releasing these reports yearly, integrating newer and better data sources. We're committed to making the presentation clearer and more engaging, ensuring that the information is not only thorough but also accessible to laypeople," said Beck.

The report is available for download on the Global Water Monitor Consortium's website: