Impact of climate variability and streamflow alteration on groundwater contribution to the base flow of the Lower Zab River (Iran and Iraq)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Overall water resources evaluations including groundwater contributions to river flow are critical for assessing climate change and drought impacts on basin hydrological responses. By utilising precipitation, daily stream flow and simulated river discharge alteration data, this study introduces a simple but comprehensive methodology to better understand the potential impact of river regulation coupled with climate variability and drought on groundwater involvement. The Lower Zab River basin in northern Iraq has been selected as a representative case study to demonstrate the new methodology. Three of the most commonly used base flow separation methods were assessed: Eckhardt algorithm, flow duration curve and Chapman filtering algorithm. In addition, the indicators of hydrologic alteration method and the reconnaissance drought index have been applied. The results demonstrated that some of the underground water responds to precipitation events. A noticeable increase in groundwater contribution has been observed during the hydrological years between 1998–2001 and 2006–2008 as a result of a sharp decline in the average precipitation. However, the opposite has been observed during the hydrological year 1987, which impacted negatively on the basin water resources availability. The reservoir release through the dry periods causes the observed variations in base flow index (BFI) values between the pre- and post-river damming time periods. Considering the BFI long-term seasonal variation, index values started to rise in April and reached their maximum by the end of June. A steady decline has been recorded between August and September.


External organisations
  • University of Salford
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ocean and River Engineering
  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


  • Climatology, Environmental assessment, Groundwater contamination and vulnerability, Hydrogeology, Surface water, Water management
Original languageEnglish
Article number1392
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch