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Discharge Decrease in the Tunisian Merguellil Basin

The logo of the MDPI journal Water

Together with Khaoula Khemiri (University of Tunis El Manar), Sihem Jebari (National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry), and Khlifa Maalel (Laboratory of Modelling in Hydraulics and Environment), CMES Deputy Director Ronny Berndtsson has authored the article "Is Climate or Direct Human Influence Responsible for Discharge Decrease in the Tunisian Merguellil Basin?", available online in the journal Water.

Climate change and direct anthropogenic impact are recognized as two major factors affecting catchment runoff. This study investigated the separate effect of each of these factors for runoff from the important Tunisian Merguellil catchment. For this purpose, more than forty years of hydrological data were used. The methodology was based on hydrological characterization, NDVI index to monitor land use dynamics, and the Budyko approach to specify origin of change. The results show that hydrological change is much more important upstream than downstream. The last three decades display a 40% reduction in runoff. This is associated with the direct influence of humans, who are responsible for about 78% of the variation in flow. It appears that climate change contributes to less than about 22%. The combination of increased cultivated land and decreased annual rainfall is the main reason for reduced catchment runoff. Consequently, these effects threaten the sustainable runoff, water in reservoirs, and future water supply in general. Ultimately, the available runoff remains an important parameter and a key indicator to guide the choices of decision-makers and practitioners in current and future climatic conditions. This contributes to supporting sustainable management of remaining water resources.

Read and download the article here

Ronny Berndtsson's staff page