U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


Main content area

Assessment of the Impact of Potential Climate Change on the Water Balance of a Semi-arid Watershed

Abdulla, Fayez, Eshtawi, Tamer, Assaf, Hamed
Water resources management 2009 v.23 no.10 pp. 2051-2068
basins, linear models, rivers, groundwater recharge, highlands, watersheds, global warming, rain, temperature, climate, Jordan River, Jordan
With a yearly precipitation of 200 mm in most of the country, Jordan is considered one of the least water-endowed regions in the world. Water scarcity in Jordan is exacerbated by growing demands driven by population and industrial growth and rising living standards. Major urban and industrial centers in Jordan including the Capital Amman are concentrated in the northern highlands, mostly contained within the boundaries of the Zarqa River Watershed (ZRW). The ZRW is the third most productive basin in the greater Jordan River System. King Talal Dam was built a few kilometers upstream of the Zarqa-Jordan confluence to regulate its input mostly for the benefit of agricultural activities in the Jordan Valley. Concerns regarding the sensitivity of the ZRW to potential climate change have prompted the authors to carry out the current study. The methodology adopted is based on simulating the hydrological response of the basin under alternative climate change scenarios. Utilizing the BASINS-HSPF modeling environment, scenarios represent ing climate conditions with ±20% change in rainfall, and 1°C, 2°C and 3.5°C increases in average temperature were simulated and assessed. The HSPF model was calibrated for the ZRW using records spanning from 1980 through 1994. The model was validated against an independent data record extending from 1995 through 2002. Calibration and verification results were assessed based on linear regression fitting of monthly and daily flows. Monthly calibration and verifications produced good fit with regression coefficient r values equal to 0.928 and 0.923, respectively. Assessment based on daily records show much more modest r value of 0.785. The study shows that climate warming can dramatically impact runoffs and groundwater recharge in the ZRW. However the impact of warming can be greatly influenced by significant changes in rainfall volume.