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A decision-making framework to model environmental flow requirements in oasis areas using Bayesian networks

Xue, Jie, Gui, Dongwei, Zhao, Ying, Lei, Jiaqiang, Zeng, Fanjiang, Feng, Xinlong, Mao, Donglei, Shareef, Muhammad
Journal of hydrology 2016 v.540 pp. 1209-1222
Bayesian theory, agricultural land, basins, case studies, decision making, ecosystems, environmental models, financial economics, hydrology, oases, probability, rivers, water management, water supply, China
The competition for water resources between agricultural and natural oasis ecosystems has become an increasingly serious problem in oasis areas worldwide. Recently, the intensive extension of oasis farmland has led to excessive exploitation of water discharge, and consequently has resulted in a lack of water supply in natural oasis. To coordinate the conflicts, this paper provides a decision-making framework for modeling environmental flows in oasis areas using Bayesian networks (BNs). Three components are included in the framework: (1) assessment of agricultural economic loss due to meeting environmental flow requirements; (2) decision-making analysis using BNs; and (3) environmental flow decision-making under different water management scenarios. The decision-making criterion is determined based on intersection point analysis between the probability of large-level total agro-economic loss and the ratio of total to maximum agro-economic output by satisfying environmental flows. An application in the Qira oasis area of the Tarim Basin, Northwest China indicates that BNs can model environmental flow decision-making associated with agricultural economic loss effectively, as a powerful tool to coordinate water-use conflicts. In the case study, the environmental flow requirement is determined as 50.24%, 49.71% and 48.73% of the natural river flow in wet, normal and dry years, respectively. Without further agricultural economic loss, 1.93%, 0.66% and 0.43% of more river discharge can be allocated to eco-environmental water demands under the combined strategy in wet, normal and dry years, respectively. This work provides a valuable reference for environmental flow decision-making in any oasis area worldwide.