2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


JONES, Christopher K.1, SULTAN, Mohamed1, AL-DOUSARI, A.2, SALIH, Sabbar A.3, BECKER, Richard1 and MILEWSKI, Adam1, (1)Geosciences, Western Michigan University, 1903 W. Michigan Avenue, 1187 Rood Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, (2)Environmental Sciences Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, P.O. Box 24885, 13109 Safat, Kuwait, Safat, Kuwait, (3)Department of Applied Geology, University of Tikrit, College of Science, Tikrit, P.O. Box. 42, Tikrit, Iraq, christopher.k.jones@wmich.edu

Until the 1970's, the Mesopotamian marshlands extended over an area 15,000 – 20,000 km2 in central and southern Iraq. Today, the Central and Al Hammar marshlands have almost entirely disappeared and only one third of the Hawr Al Hawizeh marshlands remain. The disintegration of the marshes are primarily due to major engineering projects aimed at harvesting water for industrial and agricultural purposes; these changes led to decreased flow and degradation in water quality. We assessed the impacts of these projects on the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and on the Mesopotamian marshes downstream as follows: (1) using temporal Landsat TM (1984), MSS (1977), and CORONA images (1969) over the marshes in central and southern Iraq, we documented the progression of disintegration of the marshes over the past four decades; (2) using temporal (1980s, 1990s, and 2000) Landsat TM mosaics over the entire Tigris Euphrates watershed (951,000 km2), we monitored the construction of a complex system of dams (by mapping lakes) and drainage systems (by mapping canals) across the watershed; (3) using time constraints (from 1 & 2), we investigated the impacts of the individual projects on the disintegration of the marshes; and (4) adopting web-based GIS technology, we constructed the Eden web-based (ArcIMS) GIS (http://www.esrs.wmich.edu/Eden) for data integration, analysis, and distribution. Analysis of the GIS revealed: (1) a progressive decrease in areas occupied by marshes (1984: 8130 km2; 1990: 5600 km2; 2002: 750 km2); (2) disintegration of the marshes in southern Iraq is directly linked to drainage projects (e.g., MOD and Mother of Battles River) that were largely constructed throughout the 1970's and 1980's and put into use shortly after the Iraq Iran war in the early 1990's; (3) considerable reduction in the flow of the Euphrates River was inferred from comparisons of stream widths (in northern Iraq and southern Turkey); stream widths were extracted from temporal Landsat MSS images before (1975) and Landsat TM images after (1998) the erection of the Atatork and Keban dams; (4) a similar conclusion was reached regarding the impact of upstream damming (in Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq) on the flow of the Tigris River; and (5) geomorphological features indicative of marshland degradation and linked to the Iraq-Iran war were observed.