Preserving the world second largest hypersaline lake under future irrigation and climate change

Shadkam S, Ludwig F, van Vliet M, Pastor A, & Kabat P (2016). Preserving the world second largest hypersaline lake under future irrigation and climate change. Science of the Total Environment 559: 317-325. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.190.

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Abstract

Iran Urmia Lake, the world second largest hypersaline lake, has been largely desiccated over the last two decades resulting in socio-environmental consequences similar or even larger than the Aral Sea disaster. To rescue the lake a new water management plan has been proposed, a rapid 40% decline in irrigation water use replacing a former plan which intended to develop reservoirs and irrigation. However, none of these water management plans, which have large socio-economic impacts, have been assessed under future changes in climate and water availability. By adapting a method of environmental flow requirements (EFRs) for hypersaline lakes, we estimated annually 3.7·10⁹ m³ water is needed to preserve Urmia Lake. Then, the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrological model was forced with bias-corrected climate model outputs for both the lowest (RCP2.6) and highest (RCP8.5) greenhouse-gas concentration scenarios to estimate future water availability and impacts of water management strategies. Results showed a 10% decline in future water availability in the basin under RCP2.6 and 27% under RCP8.5. Our results showed that if future climate change is highly limited (RCP2.6) inflow can be just enough to meet the EFRs by implementing the reduction irrigation plan. However, under more rapid climate change scenario (RCP8.5) reducing irrigation water use will not be enough to save the lake and more drastic measures are needed. Our results showed that future water management plans are not robust under climate change in this region. Therefore, an integrated approach of future land-water use planning and climate change adaptation is therefore needed to improve future water security and to reduce the desiccating of this hypersaline lake.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Urmia Lake; Hypersaline lake; Climate change; Irrigation; Reservoirs; Hydrological model
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Water (WAT)
Exploratory and Special projects (ESP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 07:42
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2016 12:45
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/12811

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