The impacts of climate variability and climate change in the Nile Basin on future water resources in Egypt

Declan Conway

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112 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the application of hydrologic models of the Blue Nile and Lake Victoria sub-basins to assess the magnitude of potential impacts of climate change on Main Nile discharge. The models are calibrated to simulate historical observed runoff and then driven with the temperature and precipitation changes from three general circulation model (GCM) climate scenarios. The differences in the resulting magnitude and direction of changes in runoff highlight the inter-model differences in future climate change scenarios. A 'wet' case, 'dry' case and composite case produced +15 (+12), -9 (-9) and + 1(+7) per cent changes in mean annual Blue Nile (Lake Victoria) runoff for 2025, respectively. These figures are used to estimate changes in the availability of Nile water in Egypt by making assumptions about the runoff response in the other Nile sub-basins and the continued use of the Nile Waters Agreement. Comparison of these availability scenarios with demand projections for Egypt show a slight surplus of water in 2025 with and without climate change. If, however, water demand for desert reclamation is taken into account then water deficits occur for the present-day situation and also 2025 with ('dry' case GCM only) and without climate change. A revision of Egypt's allocation of Nile water based on the recent low-flow decade-mean flows of the Nile (1981-90) shows that during this period Egypt's water use actually exceeded availability. The magnitude of 'natural' fluctuations in discharge therefore has very important consequences for water resource management regardless of future climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-296
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Water Resources Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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