Investigating the interaction between agricultural lands and Urmia Lake ecosystem using remote sensing techniques and hydro-climatic data analysis

Ghale Y. A. G., Baykara M., Ünal A.

Agricultural Water Management, vol.221, pp.566-579, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 221
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.agwat.2019.05.028
  • Journal Name: Agricultural Water Management
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.566-579
  • Keywords: Urmia Lake, Agricultural lands, Salinization, Desertification, Agricultural water management, HYPER-SALINE LAKE, SOIL-SALINITY, REGION
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© 2019 Elsevier B.V.Urmia Lake (UL) located in the northwest of Iran, is one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. In recent years, most of the lake has been rendered to unusable lands. Drought and rapid increase in agricultural activities are the most important reasons behind the shrinkage of the lake. In this study, hydro-climatic data, Landsat satellite images and image processing techniques were used to detect the spatio-temporal land cover changes and salinization progress in Urmia Lake Basin (ULB) between 1975 and 2019. Increasing the area of irrigated lands from 1265 km2 in 1975 to 5525 km2 in 2011 in contrast to decreasing the water surface area of UL from 5982 km2 in 1995 to 586 km2 in 2014 and extension of salinization in the basin are the most important and thoughtful results of this study. Even the agricultural lands in the regions close to the lake have been affected by this environmental problem. The climatic conditions have gradually improved after 2014 and the government has released more water from dams to the lake. On the other hand, the area of irrigated lands has gradually decreased by 12% in the same period. As a result of these positive changes, the water surface area of the lake has gradually increased over 1000 km2. Based on the results of this study, both anthropogenic and climatic factors have played a positive role in UL restoration. Improvement of agricultural methods and providing a sustainable agricultural water management system under a changing climate can play the most effective role in the lake rehabilitation.