Application of the Optimization Models and Decision Support Systems in Drought

Authored by: Emery A. Coppola , Manuel Sapiano , Michael Schembri , Ferenc Szidarovszky

Handbook of Drought and Water Scarcity

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498731027
eBook ISBN: 9781315404219
Adobe ISBN:


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Drought is becoming a far more common phenomenon worldwide due to climate change. More prevalent and prolonged droughts combined with growing water demand are putting critical human activities like food production and economic development at severe risk. Vulnerable and valuable ecosystems are also threatened. Despite these risks, most water decision-makers rely on a reactive system for identifying and managing drought, which can seriously undermine efforts to mitigate negative impacts. An alternative approach is a proactive real-time drought forecasting system combined with formal optimization to provide decision-makers with an early warning system that also provides strategies for mitigating risk to the extent possible. This chapter presents some of the issues related to real-time decision support systems for drought mitigation, including a more formal definition of this phenomenon, its inherent uncertainty and growing prevalence worldwide, motivating the need for a proactive decision support system. A short survey of decision support systems with optimization published in the literature will be followed by illustrative example components for a real-time decision support system. This will include real-time prediction capabilities for drought indicators and operational variables, including groundwater levels, salinity concentrations, and water demand, with an example management optimization formulation for the country of Malta.

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