Implications of Climatic Change on Virtual Water Content for Cattle Farms in Saudi Arabia

Project: Research

Project Details


Increase in demands for food and energy crops have resulted in an increase in the demand and competition for freshwater around the globe. Lack of freshwater is becoming an emerging issue worldwide. Efficient use of water can help saving water resources, while it is becoming to be a requirement for sustainable development in the arid and semi-arid countries. The best management of water resources requires understanding of sector wise water consumption in a country. The concept of water footprint (WFP) has been increasingly used as an indicator of water consumption. WFP shows the extent of water use related to consumption of populations. More than 80% of global freshwater supplies are consumed by the agricultural sectors, while many agricultural products are used for feeding cattle, and thus the cattle farms can have an important role in the management of national WFP. The WFP concept is closely linked to the concept of virtual water, which is the volume of water required to produce a commodity or service throughout its life cycle. Quantification of virtual water content (VWC) for the cattle produced through farming plays an important role in understanding the national WFP (NWFP) of a country. VWC identifies the type of cattle responsible for the larger fractions of water consumption, and thus provides an opportunity to adjust their productions for better management of NWFP. Different types of cattle (e.g., camel, cow, milking cow, etc.) and significant number of eggs are produced in Saudi Arabia through in-house and open grazing farming. In 2010, approximately 213, 390, 157.1, 5231, 1060, 425800 and 3987000 thousand units of camel, cow, milking cow, sheep, goat, chicken and eggs respectively, were produced in the country. VWC for these products can vary considerably depending on the climatic condition, region and approach of farming. In Saudi Arabia, climatic conditions between the northern and southern regions are significantly different, which can affect the regional VWC of a product. Further, the farming practices and feed consumptions are likely to be tempo-spatially variable, which can also affect the VWC. For example, VWC for producing 1 ton of cow and poultry in Egypt were 15752 and 2268 m3/ton respectively, while in Germany, these were 7768 and 877 m3/ton respectively. Further, Saudi Arabia produces significant amount of camel, while VWC for camel is seldom available in in literature. The cattle quantities indicate that the VWC for these cattle can be significant, while no representative information on the total VWC for these cattle farms is available for Saudi Arabia. Further, studies have reported possible climatic changes in all regions of the country in future. Effects of such changes on the VWC for different cattle has not been investigated to date. In this project, effects of climate change on the VWC for the cattle farms during the current century will be investigated through explaining the changes of temperature and rainfall. The climate change in terms of temperature and rainfall will be investigated through splitting the current century into three time intervals, the beginning, (2025-2049), the middle (2050-2074) and the end (2071-2099) respectively. The Representative Concentrations Pathway (RCP) Scenarios (RCP 8.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 4.5), representing the high, medium and low emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), respectively, will be applied to incorporate the variability among all possible scenarios. These scenarios represent the A2, A1B and B1 scenarios of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) respectively. The current state of climate and different scenarios of climate changes will be applied to better understand the VWC for the cattle farms in different regions of Saudi Arabia. Better understanding of VWC for producing various cattle and eggs can help in better management of non-renewable groundwater sources. In addition, assessment of the effects of climate change on VWC of these cattle farms can assist in strategic planning for water resources management in future. The cattle and region wise VWC can also be used as a guide to allocate cattle farming for maximizing water conservation. The proposed research has three main objectives: (i) predicting VWC for producing various cattle in different regions of Saudi Arabia; (ii) predicting climate change in terms of temperature and rainfall for three time intervals (2025-2049, 2050-2074 and 2071-2099) under three scenarios (high, medium and low emissions of greenhouse gases); and (iii) explaining the effects of climate change on the VWC for various cattle in different regions of Saudi Arabia.
Effective start/end date5/01/1531/12/17


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