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Head : Mehrez Zribi
The arid and semi-arid regions of the Mediterranean basin correspond to geographical surfaces with strong demographic growth. They are of great importance because of the scarcity of the water resources available.
Due to low precipitations, irrigation located in plains is by far the major consumer of water, whereas water resources are issued from limited mountainous areas supplying plain aquifers and river flows. The growth and the transformation of the needs of the populations intensify the impact of the activities of the man on his medium and can generate phenomena which degrade the environment. This phenomena can be amplified by the climatic changes, and their feedbacks can be global or regional. Efforts are necessary to improve models to understand and predict the impact of the past and forthcoming environmental and human changes on the hydrological cycle in arid and semi-arid regions.
The ambition of this program is to develop methodologies which permit the integration of ground-based data, process models, and remotely sensed satellite data in order to document, understand and predict the evolution of a semi-arid heterogeneous region for a sustainable development.
The scientific approach is based on the synergy between the mathematical modelling and the satellite and in situ observations.
In this context, the SUDMED program has been launched in 2002 to address the issue of improving our understanding of the hydrological functioning of the Tensift watershed, a semi-arid basin located in central Morocco. Apart from the Tensift major site, the SudMed project extended in 2007 to the Yaqui valley, North-West of Mexico, where similar bioclimatic and agricultural conditions are found. Since 2008, an experiment is also running in Tunisia, in the Merguellil catchment (2000 km2) Substantial results have been obtained since 2002. The program is still going on, with focus on the following thrust areas: integrative modelling at watershed scale, integration of various types of remote sensing data in models (microwave, thermal), aggregation and desegregation of low resolution data, finalization of tools for operational management, and producing biophysical variables and indicators at the Mediterranean scale.
(1) to improve our understanding of the main processes of the water redistribution at the catchment scale through the development of a numerical platform of modelling and observation in order to establish evolution scenarios of the water resources in a changing climate context and
(2) to get a better understanding of the terrestrial water cycle at the continental scale and in particular, the linkages between the continental water cycle and the large scale climate pseudo-oscillations.
These objectives articulate around :
with a specific focus on
the research carried out within the SudMed project since 2002 led to significant results for the monitoring of the irrigated plain and gave a first glimpse of the complexity of the hydrological processes in the High Atlas ; however, more work is needed to reach our objective, i.e. to fully understand the integrated hydro-ecological functioning of this type of basin.
The program is still going on, with focus on the following thrust areas:
Therefore, future research include at least three major points :
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