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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

A collaborative approach towards integrated water resources management in the Litani River basin: opportunities for climate change adaptation and socioeconomic growth   

PI: Mutasem El Fadel, American University Beirut 
U.S. Partner:  James Smith, Princeton University
Project Dates: May 2012 - May 2016

Project Overview

Building on USAID’s past and on‐going programs in the Litani river basin in Lebanon, this project will study the vulnerability of the Litani to climate change with an emphasis on water resources and quality, agriculture productivity and food security, and public health protection. These researchers will work to provide a framework integrating climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation using advanced simulation tools with decision support systems. These data will then be used to develop policies and investment options tied to socioeconomic improvement through cost benefit analyses. The project should enhance water quality management in the Litani basin while providing a collaborative platform for application and adaptation of new technologies as well as capacity building.
 
Specific activities to be carried out include applying the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in order to downscale climate change predictions to a watershed river scale for vulnerability assessments. The U.S. partners on this project are currently using the WRF model to conduct a similar vulnerability assessment of the water cycle in the Baltimore area, so their experience should be helpful to the Lebanese group as they strive to produce the first detailed, high-resolution evaluation of the impacts of climate on the hydrology of Lebanon in general and the Litani basin in particular. Based on the results of the climate vulnerability simulations, the researchers will subsequently define and analyze various adaptation strategies, focusing on such aspects as agricultural yields, alternative crops, and water management practices. Risk and socioeconomic assessments of climate change impacts will be conducted, and the various vulnerability, adaptation, and socioeconomic indicators will be integrated into a decision support system to promote sound, evidence-based policy creation. Through this collaborative project, the Lebanese researchers and students involved will gain experience with cutting-edge tools for assessing climate change impacts and vulnerability and will have enhanced capacity to contribute to strategic policy planning in Lebanon with regard to climate change and its effects. 
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
Over the summer of 2014, Dr. El-Fadel and his team continued their climate downscaling simulations for Lebanon. Successful past simulations were evaluated and the lessons and data were applied to the initial phases of creating new simulations for future years. Three papers concerning modeling and climate change were also presented during this time.

The water quality sampling and analysis program continued throughout this period. The collects took place at pre-defined sampling locations in the Qaroun Reservoir and at the monitoring station on the main stem of the Litani River close to where it discharges into the reservoir. The drought of 2013-2014 has affected the sampling program and several monitoring locations had to be abandoned or moved to deeper parts of the lake. Monitored locations are being sampled bi-monthly for several indicators with the goal to examine the spatio-temporal variability in water quality within the reservoir and to link observed changes to anthropogenic, meteorological, as well as seasonal drivers. For this task, the first steps were taken toward developing a structural equation lake model.

A Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model was calibrated for the Upper Litani River Basin (ULRB) and was used to assess the impact of future climate change on the basin. Moreover, the resilience of the ULRB to expected climate change was quantified under a defined set of plausible future water resources management alternatives. The results were used to propose a set of supply and demand measures needed to ensure a more sustainable future within the basin.

Due to the security situation, work has proceeded more slowly than anticipated and Dr. El-Fadel submitted a request and received approval for a no-cost project extension.
 

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