Workshop Summaries - Day 1

Session 1

Co-chairman: Dr. Radwan Al-Weshah
In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Weshah identified water scarcity among the constraints on social development in the Arab region and highlighted the effects of population growth and expansion of agriculture on exacerbating the impacts of this constraint. In addition, he provided an overview of the Role of UNSECO’s Cairo office in implementing IHP framework and in initiating programs such the WADI hydrology, which led, because of its success, to launching the GWADI initiative.

Co-chairman: Dr. Lawrence Martz
In his welcoming remarks, Dr Martz thanked the participants and organizers of the workshop. He also conveyed Dr. Sorooshian’s regret for not being able to attend the workshop. Dr. Martz pointed that recent advances in observation and modeling must have practical applications particularly in regions facing water resources challenges such as the Middle East. He also emphasized that the workshop, which brings together experts from the region and abroad, aims at identifying point of cross cutting interests, and establishing the requirement to move towards future cooperation in connecting advances in hydrological and meteorological sciences to water resources management in the region. The structure of the workshop has therefore been designed to: (a) encourage dialogue, (b) identify regional issues and problems, and (c) provide reciprocal feedback to the participants as well as to UNESCO and WCRP through the anticipated deliverables (Presentation media, report, recommendations, and potential white papers).

In response to Dr. Martz’s request, Dr. Sommeria provided a very brief review of WCRP’s role in developing and coordinating general program for research in climates (i.e. GEWEX). He indicated that the workshop was requested by WMO council.

Address on Behalf of His Excellency, Dr. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, Minister of Water Resource and Irrigation, Egypt (delivered by Dr. Hussein Ehsan El-Atfy, Vice President, ICID and Secretary of ENCID).

Conveying His Excellency’s Dr. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid’s greetings to the workshop participants, Dr. El-Atfy thanked the workshop organizers for selecting Egypt as the host country. He indicated that although difficult to predict, climate change will impact precipitation patterns over the Nile basin and, as a result, will compound the challenges of drought, flood, and sea water intrusion that are facing Egypt. Dr. El-Atfy briefly reviewed water resources research efforts in several of the twelve research institutes comprising Egypt’s National Water Research Center’s. He highlighted the role of operational forecasting at national, basin, and regional levels as exemplified by the real-time forecasting capabilities established at Egypt’s Nile Forecast Center and by the efforts to utilize the output of global simulation models in conducting scenario analyses for both the Nile’s basin and for Lake Nasser. Dr. El-Atfi pointed to the establishment of the Arab Water Resources Council as an important component of regional efforts to address water resources challenges including climate change. In addition, his remarks addressed the need to integrate model and natural uncertainties in developing rational water resource management approaches. He then emphasized that while the impacts of climate change will vary from country to country, there is a common need to build professional and technical capacities in developing countries and that international organization have a key role in accomplishing this task. Dr. El-Atfy concluded by expressing His Exellency Minister Abu-Zied congratulations to the organizers and his confidence that this workshop and subsequent meetings and joint activities will contribute to finding answers that will meet development needs while sustaining the natural systems.

G-WADI presentation: Dr. Abdin Salih (Director, UNESCO Tehran Office)

In his presentation, Dr. Saleh provided an overview of Arid Zones Programmes in UNESCO. After highlighting key water resource challenges (population, access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and shifting use patterns) in developing countries, the presentation provided a brief historical narrative of the evolution of various IHP phases with emphasis on the objectives and themes of IHP VI. He also discussed the evolution, objectives, mandates, and successes of the GWADI and the anticipated outcome of the workshop. The links between the workshop and potential contribution to other UNESCO programmes such as FRIEND, HELP, WWAP, and PCCP/WCF, were also explored. Dr. Saleh concluded by discussing IHP-VII (2008-2013) themes.

Session 2

Chairman: Dr. Abdin Salih
Rapporteur: Dr. Bisher Imam

Overview of WCRP programs: Gilles Sommeria, WMO/World Climate Research Program

This presentation introduced the workshop participants to WCRP and GEWEX. Indicating that WCRP focuses on international coordination of global observations, process studies, and modeling, Dr. Sommeria further elaborated on WCRP-Coordinated Observation and Prediction of the Earth System (COPES 2005-2015), which aims at increasing the range of practical applications of direct relevance, benefits and value to society that can be derived from analysis and prediction of earth system variability and change. The second part of the presentation introduced GEWEX objectives and the evolution of various GEWEX projects since 1980. Dr. Someria highlighted GEWEX contributions to answering some key relevant questions (e.g. is the hydrologic cycle accelerating). The presentation was concluded by a brief description of the current status of several GEWEX data sets, modeling studies, and continental scale experiments with linkage to pertinent GEWEX panels and an explanation of the role of regional scientists in launching and proposing new experiments and observation periods.

CLIVAR programs: Tim Palmer (CLIVAR co-chair)

As the chair of the CLIVAR program, Dr. Palmer’s presentation provided an overview of CLIVAR in context of overall WCRP activities. Highlighting CLIVAR’ mission, which is to observe and predict the Earth’s climate system with focus on ocean-atmosphere interaction, Dr. Palmer proceeded to describe CLIVAR’s research areas and the linkage between these areas and various research projects that address global observations, modeling, anthropogenic climate change, and paleoclimatic analyses and modeling studies. He also indicated to the workshop participants that CLIVAR is seeking scientists to study and assess global model integrations at regional scales in order to identify prediction skills, models’ applicability, models’ ability to simulate regional climatic phenomenon’s, and to quantify climate biases at regions of interests. Dr. Palmer concluded by reporting on recent CLIVAR conference and by inviting participants to make use of CLIVAR accomplishments in their own regional and country-based studies, while emphasizing that the outcome of CLIVAR activities included the (a) the creation a sustained demand for couple ocean-atmosphere model, remote sensing observations not to mention fostering a suite of intercomparison studies and enhanced observation networks.

Arab Region Water Activities of UNESCO: Dr. Radwan Al-Weshah (UNESCO Cairo Office)

Dr. Al-Weshah’s presentation addressed UNESCO’s role in promoting sustainable water resources management in the Arab Region. After introducing IHP and its mission, he discussed key water challenges in the Arab region including population growth, water quality issues, hydrologic complexity, water use efficiency, public awareness, and administrative/institutional/expertise issues. The presentation included a description of current projects coordinated by UNESCO’s Cairo office including the WADI hydrology, the Global Network on Water Resources Management in Arid Regions, and the Ground Water Protection Network. Dr. Weshah provided a report on workshops, training, publications and field manuals that were coordinated under the above-described activities. A description of the modeling, sediment, drought, and flood frequency analysis studies and training activities under the FRIENDS project was also provided. Dr. Al-Weshah concluded the presentation by discussing the institutional and informational challenges facing the implementation of UNESCO’s programs in the region. Among these challenges are (1) identifying the right partners, (2) sharing data and resources, (3) funding, (4) absence of common indicators of sustainability that are suitable for the unique characteristics of the region, and (5) governance.

Session 3

Chairman: Dr. Jean Khouri
Rapporteur: Dr. Gary Woodard

Climate modeling and predictability: Tim Palmer, ECMWF and Co-Chair, CLIVAR Science Steering Group

This presentation focused on probabilistic prediction of climate. Dr. Palmer outlined the
motivations and basic concepts of climate forecasting and provided a brief description of the ensemble weather forecasts, which are generated by perturbing initial conditions/forcing, and of the Multi-Model Ensemble Climate Forecast System, which combines ensemble predictions from several models to generate probability distributions of model output. The Development of the European Multi-model Ensemble System for Seasonal to Inter-annual Prediction (DEMETER) project was discussed as an example of a current approach for End-to-end forecast system that includes seasonal forecast--downscaling--application components, with examples covering crop yield (wheat--Europe, and groundnut--India), Malaria warning--Africa, and streamflow--Ganges River. As for Multi-model Ensemble Climate Change Prediction, Dr. Palmer’s presentation described the models, referencing methods, and the application of these scenarios to assess the probability of exceedence for global annual mean temperature under different scenarios.

Case studies/interventions from the Arab Region
  • The Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources of Lebanon – Socio-Economic Implications (Lebanon): Dr. Amin Shaban, National Council for Scientific Research/Remote Sensing Center, Lebanon
    Dr. Shaban first outlined some of the natural and human-induced causes for water sector deterioration in Lebanon identified climate change as a new dimension that must be considered as it affects the productivity of source, supplies, and demand for water. He emphasized the development of hydrometeorologic/water resources data bases that provide a good picture of water-balance and demand-supply for the country. After a quantitative description of the key water balance components in and major climatic zones in Lebanon, Dr. Shaban presented indicators of change that could be discerned from the sparse data available in the country (Precipitation and Discharge). Then, he discussed the role of new technologies (i.e., remote sensing) in monitoring hydrologic variables (e.g. snow). The presentation was concluded by identifying pathways of climate change impacts on water resources, and potential coping strategies at individual, societal, and strategic levels. Herein the role of capacity building, policy development including non-conventional approaches, improved monitoring, and public awareness as important elements of Lebanon’s immediate, mid-term, and long-term strategies for coping with the impacts of potential climate change on water resources in Lebanon, was emphasized.
  • Evaluation of the impact of climate change on the monthly runoff of Zarqa River Basin (Jordan): Dr. Fayez Abdulla, Jordan University of Science and Technology
    This presentation addressed the application of hydrologic models to assess the impacts of climate change on the hydrologic response of the Zarqa River Basin (3300 mk2), which is a major surface water system in Jordan. The study approach included an assessment of the ability of two different GCM’s (Hadley, and MPI) to reproduce the baseline climatic conditions (1960-1998) over the basin. Following, the Surface infiltration baseflow hydrologic model (SFB), which was modified and calibrated to reflect the hydrological characteristics of arid-basins, was forced by climate change scenario (2xCO2) output from both GCM. The results indicated potential decreases in monthly runoff as well as in peak volumes with average annual change of 12% (Hadley) and 40% (IMP). These results were compared with incremental change (temperature and precipitation) scenarios. Dr. Abdullah emphasized: (a) the development of hydrologic models that are suitable for arid/semi-arid environment and (2) the assessment of GCM performance with respect to historical condition at regional and local scales as prerequisites of impact assessment studies in the arid/semi-arid regions.

Session 4

Chairman: Dr. Ezio Todini
Rapporteur: Dr. Mohamed Abdou

Case studies/interventions from the Arab Region (continued)
  • Gash Wadi Flood Management Challenges (Sudan): Prof. Abdalla Abdelsalam Ahmed. Omdurman Islamic University, Sudan
    To highlight the potential impacts of climate variability on flood hazards in Sudan, Dr. Abdelsalam Provided an historical review of recent floods in the Gash River, which drains a 21000 km2 catchment in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan where it forms a large delta (320,000 ha) after passing the town of Kassala (800,000 inhabitants). The river is characterized by torrential flows, with several severe flood episodes the largest of which occurred in 2003, when most of the town was flooded. A combination of anthropogenic factors, high sediment content of the flood, and lack of well-defined flood management responsibility have all aggravated the impact of the flood. These impacts included several million dollars of damage, not to mention the severe impact on local economy. In his conclusion, Dr. Abdelsalam Ahmed, emphasized the importance of proper understanding of the behavior of the Gash River before undertaking structural modification and/or training activities. Also, he emphasized the need for the development of discharge measurement infrastructure along with early warning system and clear designation of responsibilities as measures to cope with climate variability.
  • Rainfall of the Sudan and the Use of It’s Prediction Information In Water Resources Management (Sudan): Dr. Tarig El Gamri, Head, Water Resources Department, Desertification Research Institute, The National Centre for Research, Sudan
    This presentation addressed precipitation in Sudan. Dr. ElGamri started by discussing the spatial variability of precipitation in Sudan and discussing the factors influencing the temporal variability of rainfall in the country. He outlined research efforts to utilize ElNino, LaNina, and SST as predictors of precipitation. The study approach relys on Enso classification to discern various statistical relationship between ENSO and precipitation in several meteorological stations. While the analysis results support the presence of strong correlation between ENSO and precipitation, Dr. ElGamri argued that further studies are needed regaring the mechanism, estimation, and forecasts of precipitation in Sudan.
  • Drought and its Impacts on the Arid and Semi-Arid Regions of the Arab World: Dr. Jean Khouri, UNESCO Consultant, Syria
    In his presentation, Dr. Khouri discussed the climatologic hydrologic factors leading to drought conditions and the potential impacts of green house gasses induced global warming on these factors. In the Arab world, drought prone areas are related to four hydro-climatic zones. In the Mashrek zone (east), seasonal droughts are predominant such as those recently experienced (Jan-Oct 2000) with rare long term. droughts (1959-1962). The Maghreb (west) is mainly affected by recurring droughts, which can extend to several years (1980-84). The third zone is the Horn of Africa, which can also experience multi-year droughts such as the 1998-2000 drought, which resulted in severe food shortages. The Sahel climatic zone experience prolonged periods of recurrent droughts, such as those in the 1950’s and 1980’s. IN general, agriculture and water resources are the most affected sectors with first order impacts including covering crop yield and water shortages. These are followed by economic and social impacts, but data is lacking to quantify these higher order effects. Dr. Khouri introduced a method for drought impact assessment that relies on observation, comparative analysis, and simulations. These can be used to identify both qualitative aspects such as vulnerability, quantitative aspects such as susceptibility, and environmental aspects such as sensitivity to drought. The presentation was concluded by examples of discharge data from the Euphrates River and highlighted the sensitivity of areas with larger precipitation variability to drought.
Discussion and identification of major water issues - All Participants

The first day of the workshop was concluded with a discussion session. Although the session was informal and general, it focused on identifying existing gaps that must be addressed to improve utility of climate information in water resource planning and operation in the region. The results of the discussion can be grouped in two major points:

  • Climate Predictability and Use of Climate Predictions in Water Resources Management - Technical issues: Agreeing that statistical records show several trends, with some impacts, participants identified the following priority issues:
    - Indicators: There is a need to develop a suite of indicators of climate change and climate change impacts that suitable to the region. While some of these indicators must be technically oriented in terms of describing hydrolmeteorological aspects of climate change, others must be able to describe a wide-range of socio-economic factors.
    - Models, Scenarios, and Assessment of predictability: Several participants pointed to the absence of studies to assess the predictability of climate over the region as a key challenge to using climate model prediction in water resource management within the region. In addition, there is the issue of currently adopted climate model scenarios, and whether they are suitable to the region and/or adequate in describing the potential developmental challenges in the region. Questions such as why is the region dry?, what are the key hydrometeorologic, climatic, and general circulation factors that cause the region dryness?, were also raised.
    - Hydrologic Models: Currently available hydrologic models, which are essential toconduct impact assessment studies, are less capable of describing the arid/semi-arid hydrology. As such, scientists in the region have to revise and modify hydrologic models in order to better describe local conditions. However, with the absence of sustained regionally/internationally coordinated efforts, our understanding of the hydrologic processes in arid/semi-arid regions remains incomplete. This poses significant limitation to the potential utilization of climate model output in water resource management.
    - Data issues: Scientists in the region face the challenge of obtaining data even when collected within their own region. The ability to acquire data from WMO stations is not uniform within the various institutions and there is a need to facilitate such acquisition at regional (basin?) scales. In addition, researchers with training other than meteorological, find numerous model-output variables without adequate (non-specialist) variable description.
  • Regional Capacity and International Collaboration
    - Absence of GEWEX Regional Experiment in the Region: One of the issues prominently raised by participants was the absence of an internationally coordinated GEWEX regional scale experiment within the Arab region. Such experiment will facilitate improved understanding of hydrologic processes in arid regions.
    - Need for a Regional Climate Change Network: Participants identified the establishment of a regional network for climate change as a very significant step toward building capacity at regional and national level. This network will facilitate increasing policy makers’ awareness and interests in climate change issues. It will also facilitate the development of data base to collect and exchange data from various national agencies. Once a network is established, studies that identify the response of agricultural, rangeland, and water resource systems to climate change could be utilized to solicit institutional support from national ministers and regional and international entities through a regionally coordinated effort. In response to this issue, UNESCO representative indicated that UNESCO will be happy to facilitate the establishment of this network under the GWADI mandate.
    - Other Issues: In addition to the above-listed gaps, the participants identified the declining number of meteorological stations in the region and at national levels as a key challenge especially because of the lack of information regarding the quality of collected data. The lack of a regional center for climate and weather forecasting was also considered as a major gap.