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Impact of irrigation development and climate change on the water level of Lake Urmia, Iran
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Lake Urmia, located in the north-west of Iran, is one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. In recent years, there has been a significant decrease in the lake’s area and volume by 88% and 80% respectively. An integrated water balance model of the Lake Urmia Drainage Basin (LUDB) and Lake Urmia was developed to identify these main drivers of the significant changes, and to investigate the possible future evolution of the lake under effects of projected climate change and land use change. We used an energy balance method to estimate the evaporation from the lake and the Turc-Langbein method to estimate the evapotranspiration from the drainage basin of the lake. Agricultural irrigation water was introduced to the model as an extra precipitation over the irrigated fields, after being subtracted from the surplus runoff (precipitation−evapotranspiration). The agricultural land development was assumed to be linear that changed from 300000 ha at 1979 to 500000 at 2010, which is consistent with the best available data on the actual irrigation development in the basin. We estimated the annual evaporation over the Lake Urmia and the evapotranspiration over its drainage basin as 932 mm and 287 mm respectively. Our results showed that decreased precipitation and increased temperature over the basin since 1995 could explain 68% of the observed lake level decrease. Irrigation developments during the last four decades were found to be responsible for 32% of the observed lake level decrease. Thus the future lake level of the Lake Urmia is very likely to continue to decrease unless the current climate condition will be followed by a period of increased precipitation. If the current climate conditions will prevail also in the future, even a 20% decrease in the irrigated land area, which is actually quite ambitious, will not make the lake recover to its ecological level at the end of 2020.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 57 p.
Keyword [en]
Lake Urmia, irrigation, land use change, climate change, evaporation
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120270OAI: diva2:851308
Available from: 2015-09-09 Created: 2015-09-04 Last updated: 2015-09-09Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

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