Interactions Between Changing Climates and Land Uses: The Case of Urmia Lake, Iran

Mansour Ghanian*, Omid M. Ghoochani, Latif Mohammadzadeh, Matthew Cotton, Gul Ozerol, John P. Tiefenbacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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Iran is experiencing rapid population growth coupled with the negative impacts of global warming and land-use change. These impacts pose significant challenges for water managers and planners trying to match supply and demand. The twin challenges of land-use management and planning for climate change are exemplified in the case of Lake Urmia—situated in a closed basin in northwestern Iran. The basin supports agriculture from water stored in several reservoirs. Lake Urmia was once the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East and North Africa. It has recently become an environmental concern due to shrinking by 80% within the last 30 years. The dropping water level is exacerbated by a combination of declining precipitation and land conversion practices. Water loss provokes severe socio-environmental consequences (including chronic health impacts, child mortality risks, and agricultural threats) that are similar in magnitude to those seen in the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan Aral Sea disaster. This chapter explores the interactions between climate and land use, and reveals the difficulties faced by short-term land-use policies that favor urban expansion and agricultural productivity over long-term protection of ecosystems. Lessons from indigenous water management practices in Iran are drawn upon to assess the long-term social sustainability of common pool resource management in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndigenous and Local Water Knowledge, Values and Practices
EditorsMrittika Basu, Rajarshi DasGupta
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811994067
ISBN (Print)9789811994050
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


  • Climate change
  • Iran
  • Lake Urmia Basin
  • Land-use change
  • Water management
  • Wicked problems
  • 2023 OA procedure


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