Assessment of temporal hydrologic anomalies coupled with drought impact for a transboundary river flow regime: The Diyala watershed case study

Furat A.M. Al-Faraj, Miklas Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Recent increases in human activities in shared river basins have unquestionably raised concerns about potential hydrological impacts, especially impacts of dams and large-scale water withdrawal schemes in the highlands. Anthropogenic pressures twinned with drought impacts have exacerbated water management challenges. This article assesses the cumulative consequences of upstream anthropogenic pressures and drought spells on temporal river flow regimes for the downstream country. The size and complexity of problems confronting transboundary river watersheds makes it necessary to use a representative example basin to study the problems and potential solutions. The Diyala (Sirvan) river basin, which shares dozens of transboundary watersheds between Iraq and Iran, has been selected as a representative case study. A subset of the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) was utilised and climate variability was considered in assessing the combined effect of various forms of upstream human-river regulations and climatic conditions on natural flow regimes in the downstream state. Findings indicated that the anthropogenic river-regulation coupled with the impact of drought periods have noticeably modified the natural flow paradigm. The yearly average runoffs, which are no longer available for the downstream country, have soared to very high levels, particularly over the last fifteen years. More adverse impacts were detected in the non-rainy season. Findings reveal also that damming and considerable water diversion to large-scale irrigation projects in the upstream state are the main regulations affecting the management of shared water resources in the downstream country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropogenic pressure
  • Climate alteration
  • Damming
  • Indicator of hydrological alteration
  • Integrated water resources management
  • Irrigation schemes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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