Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2012
Publication Date: 5/1/2012
Citation: Anderson, M.C., Zaitchik, B.F., Simane, B. 2012. Building hydrologic information systems to promote climate resilience in the Blue Nile/Abay higlands. Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World. 19:14-15. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Climate adaptation requires information about climate and land-surface conditions – spatially distributed, and at scales of human influence (the field scale). This article describes a project aimed at combining meteorological data, satellite remote sensing, hydrologic modeling, and downscaled climate model output to provide data relevant to building more climate resilient and environmentally and economically sustainable farming and land-use strategies in the Ethiopian Highlands. Satellites and land-surface modeling systems provide objective and spatially continuous data across contentious borders, and can penetrate to the scales at which land management decisions need to be made. Combined with land-use/land-cover, soils, and digital elevation data, these hydrologic modeling and remote sensing tools discussed here can provide valuable data products for decision makers at local, regional and national scales: spatially-distributed estimates of high soil erosion potential and sediment load cycles, seasonal water use by various crops and agricultural practices, identification of areas of high and low drought susceptibility, estimates of water diverted for irrigated agriculture, and near-real time monitors for use in drought and flood early warning. Combined with climate model scenarios, these tools are being used to investigate impacts of changing climate conditions and to test system capacity to weather expected shocks. Land-use scenarios may allow identification of optimal farming locations given hillslope, water availability, local microclimate and soil fertility conditions, as well as proximity to market infrastructure. The BNH project involves collaboration between researchers at Ethiopian and U.S. universities and government agencies, working together to develop products and information delivery mechanisms that are tailored to the specific needs of the country.