Climate change and anthropogenic intervention impact on the hydrologic anomalies in a semi-arid area: Lower Zab River Basin, Iraq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Climate change impact, drought phenomena and anthropogenic stress are of increasing apprehension for water resource managers and strategists, particularly in arid regions. The current study proposes a generic methodology to evaluate the potential impact of such changes at a basin scale. The Lower Zab River Basin located in the north of Iraq has been selected for illustration purposes. The method has been developed through evaluating changes during normal hydrological years to separate the effects of climate change and estimate the hydrologic abnormalities utilising Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration. The meteorological parameters were perturbed by applying adequate delta perturbation climatic scenarios. Thereafter, a calibrated rainfall-runoff model was used for streamflow simulations. Findings proved that climate change has a more extensive impact on the hydrological characteristics of the streamflow than anthropogenic intervention (i.e. the construction of a large dam in the catchment). The isolated baseflow is more sensitive to the precipitation variations than to the variations of the potential evapotranspiration. The current hydrological anomalies are expected to continue. This comprehensive basin study demonstrates how climate change impact, anthropogenic intervention as well as hydro-climatic drought and hydrological anomalies can be evaluated with a new methodology.


External organisations
  • University of Salford
  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of Babylon
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Water Engineering
  • Climate Research


  • Climate change, Evapotranspiration, Hydro-climatic drought, Hydrological process, Indicator of Hydrologic Alteration, River–groundwater exchange
Original languageEnglish
Article number357
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 1
Publication categoryResearch