U.S.-Iraq Cooperative Research: The Mesopotamian Marshlands from Disintegration to Restoration
Mohamed Sultan Principal Investigator
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0424104 <br/>Sultan<br/><br/>Description: This project supports a collaborative research between Dr. Mohamed Sultan, Department of Geology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York and Dr. Sabbar Al-Kaisy, Department of Applied Geology, University of Tikrit, Tikrit, Iraq and Dr. Ahmad Al-Dousari, Environmental Sciences Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait-Safat, Kuwait. They seek a better understanding of the temporal land cover and land use changes (LCLUC) that occurred over the Mesopotamian marshes in response to the reduced fresh water supply induced by damming and water diversion practices and to monitor the ongoing recovery. Archival remote sensing data and GIS applications will be applied to assess and monitor LCLUC. A web-based GIS database will be generated to host the data (field and satellite-based) and interpretations. Temporal remote sensing data and relevant maps for the marshes will be compiled and co-registered to a unified UTM projection. The remote sensing data will be processed to minimize extraneous spectral variations. The products will be mosaicked together, and change detection techniques will be applied to the normalized data in order to monitor temporal and spatial LCLUC across the marshes. The results will be calibrated against available maps and published ground truth data. A training component will be conducted in the USA to enable the foreign scientists to conduct the outlined tasks. An ultimate goal of this project is to document the spatial and temporal variations in LCLUC over the entire Mesopotamian marshes over the past four decades and throughout the duration of the project as well (2004-2006). This will include the development of methodologies for monitoring the temporal and spatial evolution of marshlands in general, and the Mesopotamian marshes in particular, and the generation of a data set that is needed to construct and to calibrate regional hydrologic models for the entire Tigris-Euphrates basin. The models are needed to predict the impacts of engineering projects on the marshlands and the Gulf ecosystems. The integrated methodology developed will be applicable to other wetlands in arid and semi-arid countries. <br/><br/>Scope and broader impacts: Data will be collected on the effect of development of dams and drainage schemes over the past decades on the changes in the Mesopotamian marshlands that are now largely replaced by salt-encrusted deserts, and the signs of environmental recovery locally observed in the last few months. Several graduate and undergraduate students, including women, will be trained in a variety of state-of-the-art remote sensing, GIS, and hydrologic research tools. The outputs (spatial and temporal variations of the Mesopotamian marshes) are essential data sets for guiding the ongoing activities to revive the marshlands. The data and interpretations will be widely disseminated using web-based GIS technologies. The project will promote international scientific cooperation between the U.S., Iraq, and Kuwait.