In Jordan, more than 75% of the land is arid or semi-arid, and it is estimated that only 7% of the country's land is arable. Jordan faces many environmental challenges, including limited natural freshwater resources, desertification, endangered species, and climate change, and these challenges are compounded by factors such as a rapidly expanding population, industrial pollution, depletion of natural resources, and recent unrest. The impacts of climate change are only likely to aggravate the situation further in the future. This project aims to design an intelligent system to monitor and track environmental changes in Jordan. The proposed system will evaluate the environment impact for various regions and classify them accordingly. The classification process aims at identifying environmentally threatened regions and resources and proposing immediate reverse actions to prevent possible environment declines for the other regions. The overreaching objective of this project is to enhance the capabilities and options for Jordanian official organizations and decision makers to help them better understand and respond to climate change.
The work these researchers will carry out entails developing foundations, principles, and metrics to assess vulnerability, impacts, problems, and variations to climate change in the arid and semi-arid lands of Jordan. Based on the assessment foundations, they hope that the project will build comprehensive and integrated assessment models for the impacts of climate change on arid lands, vegetation, animal and species diversity and distribution, water resources, hydrology, land topography, and pollution, as well as human adaptations to these changes. The study also aims to build an environmental monitoring infrastructure to collect environmental data from the targeted landscapes. These collected data will subsequently be used with various other data sources such as satellite imagery, sensor networks, pollution statistics, and historical data sets to build environmental assessment models. The study team will present their results and findings to Jordanian government officials and will conduct training workshops and outreach programs.
Summary of Recent Activities
The project team started work on its study by visiting to several agencies throughout Jordan: the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Royal Scientific Society, and many private sector agencies. One challenge was encountered when visiting companies that provide data services. Some of them refused to provide the research team with the data, while others requested high prices for the data. But contacting them with the university research office as an intermediary resulted in getting most of the needed data. Meanwhile, the project team worked closely with U.S. partner Darrel Jenerette to discuss work progress and ongoing activities. He also provided the research team with the model he is using in his NSF-funded project so the PI could use it in analyzing the data.
The project team will be deployed to as many as three data collection stations connected over a wireless network. The PI will travel to the University of California, Riverside to visit Dr. Jenrette this summer. It is expected that the modified environmental model will be completed and the research team will start getting results by mid-2014 as well. The project team is arranging a one-day workshop for environmental and water researchers in Jordan to promote the project in early April 2014.