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
US 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
In the first quarter of 2013, AUB PhD student Ms. Renalda El-Samra initiated her semester-long training visit to Princeton University under the supervision of Dr. Elie Bou-Zeid, co-partner on the U.S. side. During her stay at Princeton Ms. El-Samra is gaining experience and knowledge on the usage and application of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Her return home to AUB is set for the end of May. Meanwhile, Dr. El Fadel and other AUB students have continued analyzing Landsat images for the study area covering the period between 1984 and 2012. The aim is to reconstruct a long-term limnological dataset that will allow the team to hindcast changes in water quality, quantity, and reservoir health. Initial results from the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model for the Upper Litani River watershed are also being synthesized and analyzed with the purpose being to assess the response of the Litani River to projected climate changes scenarios. Currently, the climate scenarios are based on predictions generated using the Global Circulation Model. A transition to the downscaled WRF output is envisioned as the next step. Since the start of the project, four abstracts have already been submitted for presentation in order to disseminate the idea of dew and fog as an unconventional water resource.
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