Partitioning the impacts of streamflow and evaporation uncertainty on the operations of multipurpose reservoirs in arid regions

Pardis Biglarbeigi, Matteo Giuliani, Andrea Castelletti

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17 Citations (Scopus)
204 Downloads (Pure)


Ongoing changes in global climate are expected to alter the hydrologic regime of many river basins worldwide, expanding historically observed variability as well as increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events. Understanding the vulnerabilities of water systems under such uncertain and variable hydrologic conditions is key to supporting strategic planning and design adaptation options. In this paper, we contribute a multiobjective assessment of the impacts of hydrologic uncertainty on the operations of multipurpose water reservoirs systems in arid climates. We focus our analysis on the Dez and Karoun river system in Iran, which is responsible for the production of more than 20% of the total hydropower generation of the country. A system of dams controls most of the water flowing to the lower part of the basin, where irrigation and domestic supply are strategic objectives, along with flood protection. We first design the optimal operations of the system using observed inflows and evaporation rates. Then, we simulate the resulting solutions over different ensembles of stochastic hydrology to partition the impacts of streamflow and evaporation uncertainty. Numerical results show that system operations are extremely sensitive to alterations of both uncertainty sources. In particular, we show that in this arid river basin, long-term objectives are mainly vulnerable to inflow uncertainty, whereas evaporation rate uncertainty mostly affects short-term objectives. Our results suggest that local water authorities should properly characterize hydrologic uncertainty in the design of future operations of the expanded network of reservoirs, possibly also investing in the improvement of the existing monitoring network to obtain more reliable data for modeling streamflow and evaporation processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 May 2018


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