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Giordano R.,The Water Council | Liersch S.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2012

The increasing awareness of the complexity and uncertainty of environmental processes is changing the role of information production to support decision-making. Monitoring systems need to gather reliable information, adopting a multi-scale and integrated approach. Using exclusively technical monitoring methods to collect the information could result in unsustainable monitoring costs. In order to minimize the costs and to address the scale issue, the integration of local and technical knowledge is proposed in this work. For the implementation of this approach, a tool based on the use of fuzzy logic and geographic information system (GIS) technologies was developed. The willingness of the local community to participate in monitoring activities was ensured by keeping these activities as simple and close to local knowledge as possible. The fuzzy GIS-based system enhances both the comprehensibility of the local knowledge for the decision-makers and its reliability, making it usable for the decision-making process. The tool was developed to support soil salinity monitoring in the lower Amudarya River Basin in Uzbekistan. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Engelbrecht C.J.,The Water Council | Engelbrecht F.A.,Natural Environment Research Council | Dyson L.L.,University of Pretoria
International Journal of Climatology | Year: 2013

Mid-tropospheric closed-lows (cold-core cut-off lows and warm-core tropical lows) are important rain producing weather systems for the southern Africa region. Over South Africa, most wide-spread flood events are caused by these systems. It is therefore important to explore the potential impact of anthropogenic forcing on the occurrence of closed-lows and extreme rainfall events over the region. Coupled global circulation models (CGCMs) can not be directly applied for this purpose because of their relatively low spatial resolution-some form of downscaling is required to adequately resolve these systems and the rainfall they cause. In this study, a variable-resolution atmospheric global circulation model is applied as a regional climate model to simulate closed-low characteristics over southern Africa under current and future forcings. The model is forced with greenhouse gas concentrations according to the A2 SRES scenario and with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and sea-ice as specified by the CSIRO Mk3 CGCM. The model projects a general decrease in closed-low frequencies over the region, which occurs in association with a general strengthening of the subsiding branch of the Hadley cell. However, the climate-change signal shows variation in time and space and certain sub-regions are projected to experience an increase in closed-low frequencies during certain seasons. A general increase in extreme rainfall events is projected over southern Africa despite the projected decrease in closed-low frequencies. It is deduced that this increase in extreme rainfall events is driven by intense convective rainfall events occurring within more frequently forming tropical-temperate cloud bands. Over Mozambique, extreme rainfall events are projected to increase in association with more frequently occurring closed-lows. © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society.

Ritz S.P.,University of Bern | Stocker T.F.,University of Bern | Grimalt J.O.,The Water Council | Menviel L.,University of Sydney | Timmermann A.,University of Hawaii at Manoa
Nature Geoscience | Year: 2013

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation affects the latitudinal distribution of heat, and is a key component of the climate system. Proxy reconstructions, based on sedimentary 231Pa/230Th ratios and the difference between surface- and deep-water radiocarbon ages, indicate that during the last glacial period, the overturning circulation was reduced during millennial-scale periods of cooling1-5. However, much debate exists over the robustness of these proxies6-8. Here we combine proxy reconstructions of sea surface and air temperatures and a global climate model to quantitatively estimate changes in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the last glacial period. We find that, relative to the Last Glacial Maximum, the overturning circulation was reduced by approximately 14 Sv during the cold Heinrich event 1. During the Younger Dryas cold event, the overturning circulation was reduced by approximately 12 Sv, relative to the preceding warm interval. These changes are consistent with qualitative estimates of the overturning circulation from sedimentary 231Pa/230Th ratios. In addition, we find that the strength of the overturning circulation during the Last Glacial Maximum and the Holocene epoch are indistinguishable within the uncertainty of the reconstruction. Copyright © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

De Girolamo A.M.,The Water Council | Lo Porto A.,The Water Council
Land Use Policy | Year: 2012

The Rio Mannu River Basin (Sardinia, Italy) is undergoing a process of agricultural intensification. Like many Mediterranean areas, this basin is characterized by water shortages and diffuse pollution from agricultural sources. Hence the objective of this study was to develop possible land use and land management scenarios that could constitute an alternative to the current watershed management. Several land use and land management scenarios were formulated and analyzed with local stakeholders, and two were selected and simulated as realistic in consideration of the socio-economical aspects of the study area. Scenario 1 involves agricultural practices that include a reduction in fertilizer use to meet the Water Framework Directive requirements for " good" status of water bodies. Scenario 2 introduces rapeseed cultivation, replacing durum wheat in a small area, to investigate the impact of biofuel plant cultivation on water quality. Each option was assessed by considering the effects on water quality, crop yields and economic benefits. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was applied to simulate hydrological processes and evaluate current and future nutrient loads. This model requires adequate streamflow data for calibration and validation. However, as is the case for many Mediterranean basins, insufficient data were available. Therefore, a methodology was developed and tested to calibrate hydrological processes based on the transposition of a parameter set from a gauged catchment located in the same region. This study suggests that a sound use of fertilizers could substantially reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into surface waters, although the effects of such a policy on crop yield and farm income would be negative in some cases. Moreover, the results clearly predict that the replacement of durum wheat with rapeseed (a biofuel crop), could offer a margin of profit, but would have a negative impact on water quality due to increased nutrient losses. Consequently, this option is unsuitable for this area. Furthermore, it can be inferred from these results that the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources may have a negative impact on the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive. Clearly, this process needs to be regulated, taking into account environmental and socio-economical aspects. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Trade in energy products and services and investments in the energy sector are central to energy security. Despite the rhetoric of energy independence, the world's leading economies inhabit a complex world of energy flows and institutions that seek to govern them. This article asks: how is energy governed by international trade and investment institutions and agreements; and how would it be governed by these institutions depending on alternative governance preferences? Drawing on recent developments, it outlines three sets of tensions - between emerging multipolarity and existing regimes, between states and markets, and a structural imperative between energy and climate - that are shaping the context for energy governance. The article then analyses, from the perspective of energy exporters, importers and firms, how the landscape of multilateral, plurilateral and regional agreements manages these challenges. The current institutional configuration reveals partially overlapping memberships, incoherent rules governing state-driven policies and market-led interventions, and inconsistent rules between energy and environmental concerns. In pursuit of coherence in this complex milieu, the article ends by outlining a schematic framework for institutional design. The design choices depend on countries' preferences for greater or lesser consistency in rules and on more integrated versus fragmented governance across institutions. © 2011 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

The ways we discuss water policy decisions often closely mirror broader social and ethical decisions, for example: water as a common good; water and human dignity; water as a facilitator of well being; rights and responsibilities of access to water; justice and water. Water is a symbol of reconciliation, healing and regeneration which appears in virtually all of our known organized faith-based religions. Water decisions truly seem to be at the nexus of ethics, public policies, nature, values, beliefs and rationality. This paper opens windows into this nexus by starting with selected water policy arenas (arenas not generally thought to contain dimensions of ethics and faith) and generalizing about the dilemmas presented by decisions in them. These arenas are: dealing with risk/uncertainty in water and climate change decisions; changing terms of discourse on world water, especially between rich and poor; concepts of nature in water decision making; dealing with water and conflict; and processes of governance and water decisions. The paper concludes with suggestions of how ethics and faith might connect in decisions concerning water. © IWA Publishing & the Botín Foundation 2012.

Hefny M.A.,The Water Council
Water Policy | Year: 2012

Recent developments in international markets point to a dramatic food crisis all over the world. The media today is repeatedly dominated by staggering reports on the global food crisis, soaring crop prices and demands for biofuels, raising fears of political instability. Since 2002, media reports have mostly highlighted the dramatic situation of food insecurity. The Arab region is most seriously affected by the global food crisis. It is clear that the root causes of 'the Arab springs' and revolutions underway in various Arab countries are not only a desire for transformation to a more democratic political system but also desire for the realization of social justice among citizens, the eradication of poverty and hunger, and a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor. This paper addresses the need for a change in individual and societal behavioral patterns. It addresses the need for communities to assist governments in preventing and managing water-related food crises. It brings together world waters in its complexities, with new dimensions of institutional context and cultural norms. The effectiveness of ongoing traditional approaches may be limited without additional measures and tools to help governments understand how to engage in cooperative behavioral change. © IWA Publishing & the Botín Foundation 2012.

Climate change and rainfall variability poses serious risks to rainfed farming communities in the semi-dry agro-ecological zones of Zimbabwe. Its impacts include erratic and unpredictable seasonal rainfall, floods and cyclones. These impacts are more magnified in marginal rainfed agricultural areas characterized by low and erratic precipitation leading to low and unpredictable levels of crop production. Adaptation to these impacts is increasingly being advocated as a more sustainable response that enhances livelihoods. Through an examination of key debates from climate-science scholars, this paper examines the social research and action priorities that can be pursued in order to build the resilience of rural communities who rely on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. The paper examines the nature of adaptation processes and subsequently identifies research themes, action priorities and approaches that can generate more robust responses to climate change at various levels. The study found out that despite the weaknesses identified in Zimbabwean water and agricultural policies, there are a number of specific actions that researchers, policy-makers and communities can take to enhance adaptation capacity. Systematic assessment of rural risk and vulnerability and participatory identification of possible solutions can enable the rural poor to get better access to options, assets and the services they require to improve their livelihoods. This also enables the identification and improvement of more adaptation options that the farmers themselves have already been trying out for many years. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Abdel-Dayem S.,The Water Council
International Journal of Water Resources Development | Year: 2011

One of the greatest water-related challenges facing Egypt is the pollution of its surface and ground water resources from agricultural, domestic and industrial sources. The cost of environmental degradation due to water quality deterioration is relatively high with serious health and quality-of-life consequences. The closed water system of the country makes it more vulnerable to quality deterioration in a northward direction. The water quality of Lake Naser upstream of the High Aswan Dam and the main stem of the River Nile from Aswan to Cairo is good and traces of pollutants, if any, are far below the levels set in the quality standards set by Law 48. However, water quality in the irrigation and drainage canals deteriorates downstream and reaches alarming levels in the Delta. Monitoring water quality of the Nile system (Lake Naser, the main Nile and its branches, irrigation canals, drains and groundwater aquifers) started as early as the 1980s. The complexity of water quality management required the development of other mechanisms including policies, institutional and governance arrangements, infrastructure for monitoring and analytic laboratories, awareness and skilled human resources. This paper describes the different aspects of water quality management in Egypt and the current state as it stands by the end of the first decade of the 21st century. It also presents the methodology used in turning several monitoring programmes managed by different institutions into one national integrated system. It argues that water quality management is multifaceted and while progress along one aspect could be significant, other aspects could be lacking due to multiple reasons, the high cost involved in pollution reduction at the source is not the least. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Gallego-Ayala J.,The Water Council
Water Policy | Year: 2013

The integrated water resources management (IWRM) paradigm has emerged as the main guiding framework for water resources development and management. Since the IWRM approach started to gain prominence with the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Summit and the Dublin Conference, developing and developed countries worldwide have adopted and transposed the tools and principles embodied in this holistic approach into their national policies as well as their regulatory and institutional frameworks. The scientific community has performed extensive studies within the IWRM field. In fact, there is a growing literature analysing multi-dimensional functions to pursue an IWRM approach in water resources management. The main objective of this study is to perform a literature review of the scientific knowledge in the IWRM field published between the years 2000 and 2011. A total of 353 papers published in scientific journals were carefully reviewed and extracted from the ISI Web of Science database. The main results show that: (a) the dominant research topics in IWRManalysis focus on its institutional framework, on equitable water allocation (sustainable management of water resources), and on IWRM implementation and stakeholder participation; and (b) the leading countries in scientific research into IWRM are Germany, the USA and South Africa. ©IWA Publishing 2013.

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