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 - April 2015
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
The research team continued water quality sampling and analysis in the Qaroun Reservoir during the summer of 2013. Nine sampling locations were defined within the reservoir, and one sampling point was selected on the main stem of the Litani River for bi-weekly surface and bottom water quality sampling. Six sampling trips have been conducted so far. The goal of this monitoring program has been to examine the spatio-temporal variability in water quality within the reservoir and to link the observed changes to anthropogenic, meteorological, and seasonal drivers. Concurrent sampling of the river and the reservoir is being conducted in order to establish the connection between riverine nutrient loadings and the eutrophic status of the reservoir. The water quality sampling program has been synchronized with the overpass of the Landsat 7 and 8 satellites over the study area and will permit the development and calibration of empirical models that can predict water quality parameters from the satellite radiometric data. The calibrated empirical models will be used to hindcast the water quality of the lake and to define temporal trends. In conjunction with the sampling program, a structured questionnaire was designed to determine various uses of the reservoir, to assess the general perception of the water quality in the lake, and to determine how the pollution levels are affecting the livelihood of the local population. The survey has been administered to municipalities and local stakeholders in the villages that have access to the lake.
A Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model has also been calibrated and validated for the Upper Litani Basin (ULB) using the existing river gauges in order to assess the impacts of a changing climate on the availability of water in the Litani. Statistically downscaled future precipitation and temperature predictions from five Global Circulation Models (GCMs) under the 4 IPCC-defined storylines were used to assess the impacts of future climate change on the different economical sectors in the ULB. Trends in precipitation, temperature, and flow were assessed for statistical significance and future water management demand scenarios were further expanded and elaborated. A total of six scenarios were defined, accounting for different future projections relating to population growth, economic growth, adoption of advanced water conservation technologies, wastewater reuse, changes in crop types, and distribution network enhancements. The water demand associated with each scenario was compared with the projected future water supply under the different future climate change scenarios, and water management scenario was ranked in terms of internationally adopted water stress indices and performance metrics. Efforts to spatially refine the downscaling of the GCM data by using dynamic downscaling instead of statistical downscaling have been ongoing. The weather stations installed in various locations in the basin continue to be used for collection of weather data, as well as for measurement of dew quantities. A GIS-based model for dew prediction was developed based on combining weather data with existing physical models. The results from the weather stations will be used to validate dew maps. In order to test the effect of surface material, several surface materials have been ordered and their effect on inducing condensation will be tested.
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