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GIS-hydrological models for managing water resources in the Zarqa River basin

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Environmental Geology


Jordan is part of the arid and semi-arid region of the Middle East, where water resources are known to be scarce. Thorough planning is inevitable and must be applied wisely, especially as it is known that drought conditions were evidenced for many years in Jordan.

Surface water average accounts for 693 MCM/year out of which 359 MCM/year is base flow and 334 MCM/year flood flow. Therefore, management of surface water has been given great attention in Jordan because of the overexploitation of groundwater resources. Hydrological simulation models interfaced with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were examined in this study. GIS interfaced hydrological models were considered as a major tool for surface water management at a watershed scale because they are capable of presenting the relationship between the spatial and hydrological features of the watershed in an efficient way. This study aimed at exploring the advantages of using GIS-based hydrological models as a water management tool to study the largest river basin in Jordan namely, the Zarqa River basin.

In this study, the Spatial Water Budget Model (SWBM) and HEC-HMS / HEC-GeoHMS extension model were used. The models were calibrated and validated based on King Talal Reservoir inflow for a period of eight years. The calibration was performed for the most sensitive parameters. The calibration for the two models was performed for the years 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. Satisfactory results were obtained for both models with an R2 of 0.90 and 0.85 for the HEC-HMS and SWBM model, respectively. Validation for the models was performed using the years 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, and the results were satisfactory with an R2 of 0.75 and 0.80 for the SWBM and HEC-HMS model, respectively. Models after their calibration and verification can then be used to test scenarios related to climate change and/or land-use change at the watershed scale.

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The research on which this paper was based was part of the MSc thesis of the third author. This research was also funded by the Higher Council for Science and Technology, Jordan. The authors want to thank the anonymous reviewers for their reading of this manuscript, and for their suggestions and valuable comments.

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Correspondence to N. Al-Abed.

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Al-Abed, N., Abdulla, F. & Abu Khyarah, A. GIS-hydrological models for managing water resources in the Zarqa River basin. Env Geol 47, 405–411 (2005).

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