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The future of the water resources of the semi-arid and arid Jordan area

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Lucas Menzel, Stefan Schlaffer, Ellen Teichert
Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Kurt-Wolters-Str. 3, 34125 Kassel, Germany

Keyword(s): Jordan river, semi-arid, arid, hydrology, scenarios, TRAIN model
AbstractThe Jordan River Region is ranking among the most water poor regions of the world. Over a distance of only 300–400 km, the climatic conditions range from sub-humid in the upper north of the basin to hyper-arid at the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. The scarce water resources are competitively shared among several nations and different water use sectors, with irrigation agriculture as one of the major water users. An increasing population, rising water demands, reduced precipitation totals with increasing precipitation intensities make the region susceptible to frequent droughts. In the framework of the “GLOWA-Jordan” project, an interdisciplinary and multinational group of researchers investigate the impact of climate and land-use change on the water resources of the Jordan Region. Our sub-project is mainly focussed on the semi-arid and arid parts of the region, ranging from the Lake of Galilee to the Negev, and from the Mediterranean to the Jordanian Highlands. Our investigations include selected field studies and hydrological simulations on different spatial scales, from the patch scale to the hydrological meso- and macro-scale. The small to medium scale studies serve to further develop and validate the applied hydrological model regarding the representation of evapotranspiration, irrigation water demand, soil moisture and groundwater recharge in the model. For these purposes, the hydrological model TRAIN is applied. The TRAIN model includes a detailed consideration of the soil-vegetation-atmosphere interface and related processes, therefore representing mostly the vertical (green) water fluxes. The application of TRAIN to the hydrological macro-scale considers two time periods: The reference period is based on observed meteorological data and includes daily time series over the years 1961–1990. For this period, the water balance of the semi-arid and arid parts of the Jordan basin and its broader environs was determined and give a first-time hydrological overview of this region. The scenario period covers selected time slices between the years 2030 and 2100. Scenario data have been delivered from the Regional Climate Models MM5 and RegCM3 driven by ECHAM4 and HadAM3P model runs with IPCC’s A2 and B2 emission scenarios. The application of TRAIN and the scenarios to the entire region indicates possible drastic changes in the water resources. For example, the B2 climate scenario projects a ca. 11% decrease of precipitation totals, which would lead to simulated reductions in water availability of ca. 25%, and irrigation water demand would rise by ca. 22% in order to preserve agriculture at its current extent. The investigations therefore aim to define new thresholds of irrigated agriculture and to initiate possibilities of Integrated Water Resources Management in semi-arid and arid regions under the impact of global change.
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