Water security in the agricultural landscapes of Turkey

The aim of this Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project is to build socio-ecological and community resilience to water resource challenges through a pilot study based in the Konya Basin (Turkey) using an interdisciplinary approach combining natural and social science methods. 

The research is a collaboration between the University of Plymouth (Dr Jessie Woodbridge (PI) and Dr Claire Kelly), the British Institute at Ankara (Dr Lutgarde Vandeput), Van Yuzuncu Yil University (Dr Mehmet Seremet), the Anatolia Quaternary Research Centre, Isparta University (Dr Çetin Şenkul), Ankara University (Dr Hakan Yigitbasioglu) and the University of Birmingham (Dr Warren Eastwood). 

For any enquiries about the research please contact Jessie.woodbridge@plymouth.ac.uk

Tuzla Lake, Turkey (photo by Dr Çetin Şenkul)

Challenges surrounding increasing water demand in Turkey have resulted from rising population levels, climate change and agricultural irrigation. Exploring environmental change over multi-centennial timescales can capture socio-ecological system behaviour offering valuable information for maintaining environmental stability and building resilience to future challenges. 

Past water quality/quantity and landscape data will be integrated with historic socio-cultural and environmental knowledge to contextualise and identify mitigation strategies for better water management.

Lakes as archives of long-term environmental change in the Konya plain

Sediment cores are being extracted from lakes in areas particularly vulnerable to future desiccation. Fossil diatoms (microscopic algae) are extracted from these sediments, which are used as indicators of past changes in water quality/quantity and climate, and fossil pollen are used to reconstruct landscape change over recent centuries. 

Social science case studies are being conducted within the same regions to explore what roles cultural perceptions and local knowledge of catchments have played in water resource use, learn about the barriers to effective water resource management, and find out what scientific information is needed to support stakeholders to engage and build effective networks for sustainable water management.  

Sediment core from Tuzla Lake (photo by Dr Çetin Şenkul)