Other affiliations: University of Texas at El Paso, Stockholm University, Michigan Technological University
Bio: Ali Mirchi is an academic researcher from Oklahoma State University–Stillwater. The author has contributed to research in topics: Water resources & Environmental science. The author has an hindex of 20, co-authored 63 publications receiving 1737 citations. Previous affiliations of Ali Mirchi include University of Texas at El Paso & Stockholm University.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors describe the utility of system dynamics for holistic water resources planning and management by illustrating the fundamentals of the approach and provide an overview of Causal Loop and Stock and Flow Diagrams, reference modes of dynamic behavior, and system archetypes.
Abstract: Out-of-context analysis of water resources systems can result in unsustainable management strategies. To address this problem, systems thinking seeks to understand interactions among the subsystems driving a system’s overall behavior. System dynamics, a method for operationalizing systems thinking, facilitates holistic understanding of water resources systems, and strategic decision making. The approach also facilitates participatory modeling, and analysis of the system’s behavioral trends, essential to sustainable management. The field of water resources has not utilized the full capacity of system dynamics in the thinking phase of integrated water resources studies. We advocate that the thinking phase of modeling applications is critically important, and that system dynamics offers unique qualitative tools that improve understanding of complex problems. Thus, this paper describes the utility of system dynamics for holistic water resources planning and management by illustrating the fundamentals of the approach. Using tangible examples, we provide an overview of Causal Loop and Stock and Flow Diagrams, reference modes of dynamic behavior, and system archetypes to demonstrate the use of these qualitative tools for holistic conceptualization of water resources problems. Finally, we present a summary of the potential benefits as well as caveats of qualitative system dynamics for water resources decision making.
TL;DR: In this paper, a composite of multi-spectral high-resolution satellite observations of Lake Urmia has been used to show that the area of this Iranian lake has decreased by around 88% in the past decades, far more than previously reported.
Abstract: Lake Urmia, one of the largest saltwater lakes on earth and a highly endangered ecosystem, is on the brink of a major environmental disaster similar to the catastrophic death of the Aral Sea. With a new composite of multi-spectral high resolution satellite observations, we show that the area of this Iranian lake has decreased by around 88% in the past decades, far more than previously reported (~ 25% to 50%). The lake's shoreline has been receding severely with no sign of recovery, which has been partly blamed on prolonged droughts. We use the lake basin's satellite-based gauge-adjusted climate record of the Standardized Precipitation Index data to demonstrate that the on-going shoreline retreat is not solely an artifact of prolonged droughts alone. Drastic changes to lake health are primarily consequences of aggressive regional water resources development plans, intensive agricultural activities, anthropogenic changes to the system, and upstream competition over water. This commentary is a call for action to both develop sustainable restoration ideas and to put new visions and strategies into practice before Lake Urmia falls victim to the Aral Sea syndrome.
TL;DR: In this paper, the reliability of inter-basin water transfer to meet the growing water demand in Zayandeh-Rud River Basin is evaluated and a system dynamics model is developed to capture the interrelationships between different sub-systems of the river basin.
Abstract: summary Zayandeh-Rud River Basin is one of the most important basins in central Iran, which has been continually challenged by water stress during the past 60 years. Traditionally, a supply-oriented management scheme has been prescribed as a reliable solution to water shortage problems in the basin, resulting in a number of water transfer projects that have more than doubled the natural flow of the river. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the reliability of inter-basin water transfer to meet the growing water demand in Zayandeh-Rud River Basin. A system dynamics model is developed to capture the interrelationships between different sub-systems of the river basin, namely the hydrologic, socioeconomic, and agricultural sub-systems. Results from simulating a range of possible policy options for resolving water shortage problems indicate that water is essentially the development engine of the system. Therefore, supplying more water to the basin without considering the dynamics of the interrelated problems will eventually lead to increased water demand. It is demonstrated that the Zayandeh-Rud River Basin management system has characteristics of the ‘‘Fixes that Backfire’’ system archetype, in which interbasin water transfer is an inadequate water management policy, causing significant unintended sideeffects. A comprehensive solution to the problem includes several policy options that simultaneously control the dynamics of the system, minimizing the risk of unintended consequences. In particular, policy makers should consider minimizing agricultural water demand through changing crop patterns as an effective policy solution for the basin’s water problems.
TL;DR: In this article, the major drivers of Iran's water problems are discussed, and it is argued that while climatic changes and economic sanctions are commonly blamed as the main drivers of water problems, Iran is mainly suffering from a socioeconomic drought, where water demand exceeds the natural water supply.
Abstract: Iran is currently experiencing serious water problems. Frequent droughts coupled with over-abstraction of surface and groundwater through a large network of hydraulic infrastructure and deep wells have escalated the nation’s water situation to a critical level. This is evidenced by drying lakes, rivers and wetlands, declining groundwater levels, land subsidence, water quality degradation, soil erosion, desertification and more frequent dust storms. This paper overviews the major drivers of Iran’s water problems. It is argued that while climatic changes and economic sanctions are commonly blamed as the main drivers of water problems, Iran is mainly suffering from a socio-economic drought—i.e. “water bankruptcy,” where water demand exceeds the natural water supply. In theory, this problem can be resolved by re-establishing the balance between water supply and demand through developing additional sources of water supply and implementing aggressive water demand reduction plans. Nevertheless, the current struc...
TL;DR: An overview of game-based learning and the state of serious games (SG) for environmental management is provided, offering insight into their potential as effective tools in facilitating environmental education.
Abstract: Serious environmental management games can improve understanding of practical environmental sustainability challenges by offering opportunities to obtain first-hand experiences that may be otherwise too costly, difficult or dangerous to reproduce in reality. Game-based learning (GBL) has been found to increase soft skills, such as critical thinking, creative problem solving and teamwork, as well as to improve cognitive development, learning retention and social learning, which are important for future environmental researchers and professionals. Environmental management games can be applied in educational settings to promote awareness about sustainable resource planning and management among citizens who are increasingly exposed to products of the information age. This paper provides an overview of game-based learning and the state of serious games (SG) for environmental management, offering insight into their potential as effective tools in facilitating environmental education. SGs have been shown to possess numerous qualities that have been connected with improved learning experiences and cognitive development, but research must continue to study the SGs’ efficacy. Shortcomings found with games reviewed are that few evaluate or explain pedagogical foundation, and many are hard to implement or not accessible. Methods employed in determining the effectiveness of SGs vary greatly among environmental studies, necessitating a standardized methodology to reduce disparities in testing procedures. Furthermore, a centralized source, effectively an online database for SGs, is needed for locating and obtaining information pertaining to the available environmental games and their most appropriate applications.
01 Jan 2012
01 Apr 2016
TL;DR: The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964.
Abstract: Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth's state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964. The formal establishment of an Anthropocene Epoch would mark a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system.
01 Jan 2012
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors used the RAPID-watch 26˚N observations of the AMOC strength and vertical structure, reviewed by scientific panels such as the IPCC, inform studies of impacts of climate change on both national and international levels.
Abstract: The UK has passed legislation that introduces the world’s first long-term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change (The Climate Change Act 20084). The act requires Government to set carbon budgets, which are limits on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK for consecutive five year periods. Models analysed in IPCC AR4 have a range of 0-60% for an AMOC decrease over the next 100 years. The RAPID-WATCH 26˚N observations provide the only continuous measurements of the AMOC strength and vertical structure, and are thus a vital monitoring tool for this key climate variable'. Analysis of the PSMSL data set, reviewed by scientific panels such as the IPCC, inform studies of impacts of climate change on both national and international levels (e.g. UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP), UK Foresight Flood and Coastal Defence Review, Charting Progress and Charting Progress 2, IPCC Working Group II).
TL;DR: This study provides a first assessment of continuous sub-national trajectories of blue water consumption, renewable freshwater availability, and water scarcity for the entire 20th century to suggest measures for alleviating water scarcity and increasing sustainability.
Abstract: Water scarcity is a rapidly growing concern around the globe, but little is known about how it has developed over time. This study provides a first assessment of continuous sub-national trajectories of blue water consumption, renewable freshwater availability, and water scarcity for the entire 20th century. Water scarcity is analysed using the fundamental concepts of shortage (impacts due to low availability per capita) and stress (impacts due to high consumption relative to availability) which indicate difficulties in satisfying the needs of a population and overuse of resources respectively. While water consumption increased fourfold within the study period, the population under water scarcity increased from 0.24 billion (14% of global population) in the 1900s to 3.8 billion (58%) in the 2000s. Nearly all sub-national trajectories show an increasing trend in water scarcity. The concept of scarcity trajectory archetypes and shapes is introduced to characterize the historical development of water scarcity and suggest measures for alleviating water scarcity and increasing sustainability. Linking the scarcity trajectories to other datasets may help further deepen understanding of how trajectories relate to historical and future drivers, and hence help tackle these evolving challenges.