Climate change impacts in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin based on different model and scenario simulations

Bozkurt D., Şen Ö. L.

JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, vol.480, pp.149-161, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 480
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.12.021
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.149-161
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Hydro-climatic effects of future climate change in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin are investigated using dynamically downscaled outputs of different GCM (ECHAM5, CCSM3 and HadCM3) - emissions scenario (A1FI, A2 and B1) simulations. The suite of simulations (total five) enables an analysis taking into account the A2 emission scenario simulations of three different GCMs and another analysis based on the three different emissions scenario (A1FI, A2 and B1) simulations of one GCM (CCSM3). All scenario simulations indicate winter surface temperature increases in the entire basin, however, the increase is larger in the highlands. The greatest increase in the annual temperature by the end of century belongs to the CCSM3 A1FI simulation with an increment of 6.1 degrees C in the highlands. There is a broad agreement amongst the simulations in terms of the winter precipitation decrease in the highlands and northern parts and increase in the southern parts of the basin. A remarkable impact of warming could be seen on the snow water equivalent in the highlands where each simulation points out statistically significant decreases ranging from 55% (lower emissions) to 87% (higher emissions). Statistically significant declines (25-55%) are found for the annual surface runoff of the main headwaters area. Moreover, significant temporal shifts to earlier days (between 18 and 39 days depending on the scenario) are projected to occur in the surface runoff timing in the headwaters region. Projected annual surface runoff changes in all simulations suggest that the territories of Turkey and Syria within the basin are most vulnerable to climate change as they will experience significant decreases in the annual surface runoff. Eventually, however, the downstream countries, especially Iraq, may suffer more as they rely primarily on the water released by the upstream countries. The substantial changes in the hydro-climate of the basin, therefore, are likely to increase the challenges associated with the management of several dam reservoirs and hydropower plants in the basin in addition to causing further impacts on physical and biological components of the ecosystems along these rivers. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.