Climatic Change

, Volume 152, Issue 3–4, pp 379–391 | Cite as

Compounding effects of human activities and climatic changes on surface water availability in Iran

  • Samaneh Ashraf
  • Amir AghaKouchakEmail author
  • Ali Nazemi
  • Ali Mirchi
  • Mojtaba Sadegh
  • Hamed R. Moftakhari
  • Elmira Hassanzadeh
  • Chi-Yuan Miao
  • Kaveh Madani
  • Mohammad Mousavi Baygi
  • Hassan Anjileli
  • Davood Reza Arab
  • Hamid Norouzi
  • Omid Mazdiyasni
  • Marzi Azarderakhsh
  • Aneseh Alborzi
  • Mohammad J. Tourian
  • Ali Mehran
  • Alireza Farahmand
  • Iman Mallakpour


By combining long-term ground-based data on water withdrawal with climate model projections, this study quantifies the compounding effects of human activities and climate change on surface water availability in Iran over the twenty-first century. Our findings show that increasing water withdrawal in Iran, due to population growth and increased agricultural activities, has been the main source of historical water stress. Increased levels of water stress across Iran are expected to continue or even worsen over the next decades due to projected variability and change in precipitation combined with heightened water withdrawals due to increasing population and socio-economic activities. The greatest rate of decreased water storage is expected in the Urmia Basin, northwest of Iran, (varying from ~ − 8.3 mm/year in 2010–2039 to ~ − 61.6 mm/year in 2070–2099 compared with an observed rate of 4 mm/year in 1976–2005). Human activities, however, strongly dominate the effects of precipitation variability and change. Major shifts toward sustainable land and water management are needed to reduce the impacts of water scarcity in the future, particularly in Iran’s heavily stressed basins like Urmia Basin, which feeds the shrinking Lake Urmia.



This study was not supported by any funding agency.

Supplementary material

10584_2018_2336_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1107 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samaneh Ashraf
    • 1
    • 2
  • Amir AghaKouchak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ali Nazemi
    • 3
  • Ali Mirchi
    • 4
  • Mojtaba Sadegh
    • 5
  • Hamed R. Moftakhari
    • 1
    • 6
  • Elmira Hassanzadeh
    • 7
  • Chi-Yuan Miao
    • 8
  • Kaveh Madani
    • 9
    • 10
  • Mohammad Mousavi Baygi
    • 2
  • Hassan Anjileli
    • 1
  • Davood Reza Arab
    • 11
  • Hamid Norouzi
    • 12
  • Omid Mazdiyasni
    • 1
  • Marzi Azarderakhsh
    • 13
  • Aneseh Alborzi
    • 1
  • Mohammad J. Tourian
    • 14
  • Ali Mehran
    • 15
  • Alireza Farahmand
    • 16
  • Iman Mallakpour
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Ferdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran
  3. 3.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Oklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  5. 5.Boise State UniversityBoiseUSA
  6. 6.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  7. 7.Polytechnique MontrealMontrealCanada
  8. 8.Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  9. 9.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  10. 10.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  11. 11.Rahbord Danesh Pooya InstituteTehranIran
  12. 12.City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  13. 13.Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityTeaneckUSA
  14. 14.University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  15. 15.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  16. 16.NASA Jet Propulsion LaboratoryPasadenaUSA

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