New article on climate change’s impact on water balance in Iran

Assessing Climate Change Impact on Water Balance Components Using Integrated Groundwater–Surface Water Models (Case Study: Shazand Plain, Iran)

Author: Ronny Berndtsson (Lund University), Farzaneh Soltani (University of Tehran), Abbas Roozbahani (University of Tehran), Ali Reza Massah (University of Tehran), Saman Javadi (University of Tehran), Sami Ghordoyee (University of Tehran), Rahimeh Maghsoudi (University of Tehran), Golmar Golmohammad (University of Florida)

February, 2023

MDPI Journal

Abstract

Assessing the status of water resources is essential for long-term planning related to water and many other needs of a country. According to climate reports, climate change is on the rise in all parts of the world; however, this phenomenon will have more consequences in arid and semi-arid regions. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of climate change on groundwater, surface water, and their exchanges in Shazand plain in Iran, which has experienced a significant decline in streamflow and groundwater level in recent years. To address this issue, we propose the use of the integrated hydrological model MODFLOW-OWHM to simulate groundwater level, surface water routing, and their interactions; a climate model, NorESM, under scenario SSP2, for climate data prediction; and, finally, the HEC-HMS model to predict future river discharge. The results predict that, under future climate conditions, the river discharges at the hydrometric stations of the region may decrease by 58%, 63%, 75%, and 81%. The average groundwater level in 2060 may decrease significantly by 15.1 m compared to 2010. The results of this study reveal the likely destructive effects of climate change on water resources in this region and highlight the need for sustainable management methods to mitigate these future effects.

New article on Predicting Groundwater Footprints in Iran With Machine Learning

Using machine learning to determine acceptable levels of groundwater consumption in Iran

Authors: Ronny Berndtsson (Lund University), Sami Ghordoyee Milan (University of Tehran), Zahra Kayhomayoon (Payame Noor University), Naser Arya Azar (University of Tabriz), Mohammad Reza Ramezani (Griffith University), and Hamid Kardan Moghaddam (Water Research Institute Iran).

November, 2022

Journal Sustainable Production and Consumption

Abstract

Groundwater footprint index (GFI) is an essential indicator to assess the sustainability of groundwater aquifers. Prediction of future GFI can significantly help managers and decision-makers of groundwater supply to better plan for future resilient consumption of surface and groundwater. In this context, artificial intelligence and machine learning models can aid to predict GFI in view of lacking or uncertain data. We used this technique to predict GFI for 178 Iranian aquifers. To our knowledge, this is the first time that GFI was predicted using machine learning models. Four models, i.e., adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system, least-squares support vector regression, random forest, and gene expression programming, were used to predict GFI. Systematic combinations of eight variables, including precipitation, recharge, return water, infiltration from the river to the aquifer, groundwater exploitation, aquifer area, evaporation, and river drainage from the aquifer were used in the form of nine input scenarios for GFI prediction. The results showed that inclusion of all input variables gave the best results for predicting the GFI. Predicted GFIs were generally between 0.5 and 8 with an average of 1.9. A value above 1 indicates that groundwater consumption is not resilient that can adversely affect available groundwater resources in the future. Over-use of groundwater can lead to land subsidence. Especially, aquifers located in Qom, Qazvin, Varamin, and Hamedan provinces of Iran may be affected due to large over-use. Among the four models, least-squares support vector regression resulted in the highest prediction performance. Due to the poor performance of adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system, the novel Harris hawks optimization algorithm was used to improve the performance of adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system. The Harris hawks optimization – adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system hybrid model improved the GFI prediction performance. Machine learning methods improve prediction of GFI for aquifers and thus, can be used to better manage groundwater in areas with less reliable data.

New article on landscape composition modeling in Iran

Analysis of Landscape Composition and Configuration Based on LULC Change Modeling

Authors: Hossein Hashemi (Lund University) Masoomeh Yaghoobi (Shahid Beheshti University), Alireza Vafaeinejad (Shahid Beheshti University), and Hamidreza Moradi (Tarbiat Modares University).

November, 2022

Journal Sustainability

Abstract

Land cover changes threaten biodiversity by impacting the natural habitats and require careful and continuous assessment. The standard approach for assessing these changes is land cover modeling. The present study investigated the spatio-temporal changes in Land Use Land Cover (LULC) in the Gorgan River Basin (GRB) during the 1990–2020 period and predicted the changes by 2040. First, a change analysis employing satellite imagery from 1990 to 2020 was carried out. Then, the Multi-Layer Perceptron (MLP) technique was used to predict the transition potential. The accuracy rate, training RMS, and testing RMS of the artificial neural network, MLP, and the transition potential modeling were computed in order to evaluate the results. Utilizing projections for 2020, the prediction of land cover change was made. By contrasting the anticipated land cover map of 2020 with the actual land cover map of 2020, the accuracy of the model was evaluated. The LULC conditions in the future were predicted under two scenarios of the current change trend (scenario 1) and the ecological capability of the land (scenario 2) by 2040. Seven landscape metrics were considered, including Number of Patches, Patch Density, the Largest Patch Index, Edge Density, Landscape Shape Index, Patch Area, and Area-Weighted Mean Shape Index. Based on the Cramer coefficient, the most critical factors affecting LULC change were elevation, distance from forest, and experimental probability of change. For the 1990–2020 period, the LULC change was shown to be influenced by deforestation, reduced rangeland, and expansion of agricultural and residential areas. Based on scenario 1, the area of forest, agriculture, and rangeland would face −0.8, 0.5, and 0.1% changes in the total area, respectively. In scenario 2, the area of forest, agriculture, and rangeland would change by 0.1, −1.3, and 1.3% of the total area, respectively. Landscape metrics results indicated the destructive trend of the landscape during the 1990–2020 period. For improving the natural condition of the GRB, it is suggested to prioritize different areas in need of regeneration due to inappropriate LULC changes and take preventive and protective measures where changes in LULC were predicted in the future, taking into account land management conditions (scenario 2).

Developments in the Middle East and Perspectives on WMD Disarmament2

SIPRI’s Tarja Cronberg will be participating in a panel which will discuss the developments in the Middle East since the outbreak of the pandemic. The seminar is hosted by Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the last 12 months have seen a flurry of activity in the Middle East in the field of regional security: The Abraham Accords, moves by the USA and Iran to return to compliance with the JCPOA, and elections in the USA, Iran and Israel, among many others.

In this media briefing hosted jointly by Atomic Reporters, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Middle East Treaty Organization experts in the field will present to reporters from the region and beyond on these pressing topics in order to provide useful context and background to the upcoming UN conferences on weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Speakers:

Mark Fitzpatrick, International Institute for Strategic Studies

Ali Vaez, International Crisis Group

Tarja Cronberg, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Sharon Dolev, Middle East Treaty Organization

Moderator:

Marc Finaud, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Registration:

Sign up here to attend the event.

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When: 1 September, 16.00-17.00 CEST

Where: Virtual

Registration: Sign up here

 

How to make sense of religion in foreign policy – secular orders and religious states

This is the first webinar in a two-part series on the intersections between religion and international politics. This webinar explores how to make sense of religion and the international order by looking at the United States, Iran and the European Union. The starting point of this conversation is based on two common misconceptions. In the Western world, states are believed to have become more and more secular and the interplay between is them no longer driven by religious antagonisms. Therefore, religion is largely seen as a matter that does not concern states. In addition, foreign policy is often perceived as separate from domestic societal dynamics.
Nevertheless it is evident that many societies are more religious than their formal constitutional order indicate and that these convictions constitute an important element in how the states formulate their foreign policies.
This webinar series thus aims to bring clarity to the question: how can we understand religion’s role in foreign policy?
Speakers:
Prof. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Professor of Politics and Religious Studies and Crown Chair in Middle East Studies, Northwestern University.
Ms. Merete Bilde, policy advisor at the European External Action Service (EEAS) specialised on issues at the cross section of religion and foreign policy , European Union.
Dr. Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of UI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Use this link to attend the webinar: https://eu01web.zoom.us/j/63622467450

Article on Iran’s strategic interests in Yemen

What is in Yemen for Iran? A Realist Assessment of Tehran’s
Strategic Calculus in the Arabian Peninsula

Author: Maysam Behravesh
December, 2020

A chapter in “Navigating the Regional Chessboard” (Ed. Vogt, Achim & Schmid, Sarah), December 2020

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Abstract

This article addresses Iran’s involvement in Yemen from a realist perspective and in the wider framework of the geopolitical rivalry between the Islamic Republic on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and its allies, particularly the United States, on the other. Focusing on the “demand” side of the civil war, or motives and incentives for its perpetuation, it tries to delineate how Iranian leaders perceive Yemen and how Tehran uses this pivotal node of “strategic depth” in the Arabian Peninsula for deterrence, security provision as well as power projection purposes. The article concludes Iran is in Yemen for the long haul and therefore urges a holistic policy approach to conflict resolution that recognizes long-term interests and concerns of all major conflicting parties on the ground and seeks to make Iran’s intervention and involvement in Yemen less necessary rather than more costly.

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SIPRI Policy Brief on missile proliferation in the MENA

Addressing Missile Threats in the Middle East and North Africa

Authors: Dr. Tytti Erästö & Pieter D. Wezeman
November, 2020

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Abstract

This SIPRI Policy Brief contributes to the discussion on missile proliferation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by providing an overview of regional missile arsenals and by considering ways to address related risks. The paper makes policy recommendations, highlighting the need to move beyond the selective focus on certain types of missiles in the hands of certain states, towards a more comprehensive approach based on greater transparency, responsible arms exports and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs).

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Paper on facilitating cooperation across the Persian Gulf

“So Close Yet So Far Apart. Facilitating Dialogue and Cooperation across the Persian Gulf”

Authors: Rouzbeh Parsi & Dina Esfandiary
October, 2020

Istituto Affari Internazionali

Abstract

Despite the shared history and cultural traits of the peoples living around the Persian Gulf, its littoral states are often at loggerheads. Deep-seated rivalries and suspicions continue to plague all attempts to create an inclusive and comprehensive security framework for the region. It is therefore necessary to look beyond the formal channels and methods of creating détente.

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Publication on the JCPOA and Iran-EU relations

“State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA”

Authors: Rouzbeh Parsi & Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
October, 2020

European Union:
Policy Department for External Relations
Directorate General for External Policies of the Union

Abstract

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA.

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