System dynamics modeling of lake water management under climate change. Academic Article uri icon


  • Lake Urmia, the twentieth largest lake in the world, is the most valuable aquatic ecosystem in Iran. The lake water level has decreased in recent years due to human activities and climate change. Several studies have highlighted the significant roles of climatic and anthropogenic factors on the shrinkage of the lake. Management policies for water resources harvesting must be adopted to adapt to climate change and avoid the consequent problems stemming from the drought affecting Lake Urmia, and rationing must be applied to the upstream water demands. This study analyzes strategies and evaluates their effectiveness in overcoming the Urmia Lake crisis. Specifically, system dynamics analysis was performed for simulating the water volume of Lake Urmia, and the Hadley Centre coupled model was applied to project surface temperature and precipitation for two future periods: 2021-2050 and 2051-2080. Six management scenarios were considered for decreasing the allocation of agricultural water demand corresponding to two options: (1) one-reservoir option (Bukan reservoir only), and (2) six-reservoir option. The net inflow of Urmia Lake was simulated for the two future periods with the IHACRES model and with artificial neural network models under the six management scenarios. The annual average volumes of Lake Urmia would be 30109 and 12109 m3 over the first and second future periods, respectively, without considering the management scenarios. The lake volumes would rise by about 50% and 75% for the first and second periods, respectively under the management scenarios that involve strict protective measures and elimination of the effect of all dams and their reservoirs. Implementing strict measures would increase the annual average lake volume to 21109 m3 in the second period; yet, this volume would be less than the long-term average and strategic volume. The human water use would be completely eliminated under Scenario 6. Nevertheless, Lake Urmia would experience a considerable loss of storage because of drought.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Bozorg-Haddad, O., Dehghan, P., Zolghadr-Asli, B., Singh, V. P., Chu, X., & Loiciga, H. A.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Bozorg-Haddad, Omid||Dehghan, Paniz||Zolghadr-Asli, Babak||Singh, Vijay P||Chu, Xuefeng||LoĆ”iciga, Hugo A

publication date

  • April 2022