In this study, climate change impacts and adaptation strategies relating to the water resources, food production and environmental preservation of the Zayandeh Rud Basin were assessed for two time periods, 2010-2039 and 2070-2099 by implementing GCM projections in a modelling framework. The results show a negative impact on the available water resources and a possible decline in water quality.

Rice, potatoes, wheat and barley were selected as the basin staple food to evaluate responses to future climate change. In general, crop production will increase because of a positive impact of enhanced CO2. However, this increase is not enough to compensate for the negative impacts of a decline in water quantity and quality. Among the evaluated crops, rice shows the most negative responses in terms of average yield as well as yield variation. In the case of potatoes, the response is positive, although the yearly variation is estimated to be higher. Presently, domestic and industrial demands get 20% of the total available water, but at the end of this century this will reach about 35%. This increase is mainly a result of population growth. So, the proportion of agricultural water extractions is expected to go down.

To eliminate the aforementioned negative impacts, a number of adaptation strategies have been assessed and evaluated using a generic approach that can be used by policy makers and water resources managers. The following main conclusions and recommendations emerge from this study.

• Climate change will confront the basin with more severe water scarcity and salinity problems that makes proper water management at both basin and field level more crucial.

• The results show that there is a need for changes in cropping patterns. Specifically, rice will not be a recommendable crop.

• Pricing policy for crops can make growing crops with higher caloric values more appealing.

• Competition for domestic and agricultural water requirements is going to be more serious in the future. So population control is going to be an essential policy for the basin.

• The ecosystem of the Zayandeh Rud River suffers from domestic and industrial return flows. The treatment efficiency in these sectors should improve.

• The present water resources of the basin will not be sufficient for the future. Transfer of water from the neighbouring basins to the Zayandeh Rud Basin is an essential adaptation measure. The impact of such transfers on the source basins requires careful assessment.

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