The Marine Environment of the Emirates

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is bordered by two very different marine systems, the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Both lie within the arid sub-tropical high pressure zone, but they are characterized by markedly different environmental conditions. Today’s Gulf is a shallow, enclosed sea (average depth < 30 m) that has only existed since the last ice age, and the modern Gulf coastline was established only about 6000 years ago. The waters of the UAE’s Gulf coast are characterized by extreme temperatures across seasons, evaporation-driven hyper-salinity, complex tides, high turbidity, and occasional low oxygen, among other stressors. The Sea of Oman, in contrast, is over a kilometer deep and is well mixed with the offshore waters of the Indian Ocean, experiencing essentially normal sub-tropical oceanic conditions as a result. Regional winds such as ‘shamals’ and the Indian Ocean monsoon play important roles in creating and structuring marine environmental conditions. Given the prospect of global climate change, the future of marine systems across the Emirates, including organisms and ecosystems, will largely depend on how regional winds will change in the coming decades.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Natural History of the Emirates
EditorsJohn Burt
PublisherSpringer Nature
StatePublished - Oct 31 2023


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