Catchment-Estuary-Coastal systems under climate change and anthropogenic pressure

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

IT116, Linnanmaa

Topic of the dissertation

Catchment-Estuary-Coastal systems under climate change and anthropogenic pressure

Doctoral candidate

MSc Aziza Baubekova

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Technology, Water, Energy, and Environmental Engineering Research Unit,

Subject of study

Environmental Engineering


Associate professor Najmeh Mahjouri, K.N. Toosi University of Technology


Associate professor Ali Torabi Haghighi, University of Oulu

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Catchment-Estuary-Coastal systems under climate change and anthropogenic pressure

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) calls for extensive action to prevent and reverse ecosystem degradation. Thus, the main objective of this thesis is to assess the effects of climate change and hydrological alterations on coastal ecosystems in the most water-stressed regions, Central Asia and the Middle East. As a result, a thorough understanding of Catchment-Estuary-Coastal systems is needed to enable the development of effective management and restoration strategies.
A starting assumption for the thesis was that coastal zones are susceptible to both the decline and rise in water level. The first study site is the world’s largest endorheic lake, the Caspian Sea, which faces continuous water decline. The second study site is a vulnerable coastal ecosystem in the Persian Gulf experiencing sea level rise. For both sites, the freshwater input from river discharge and precipitation has been decreasing. It can also be assumed that the causes of water level changes are both natural and anthropogenic. Therefore, this work attempts to separate and quantify the impact of anthropogenic activities and climate change on river flow alteration, lakes, and coastal systems.
In Publication I, we addressed the effect of change in water balance parameters on the desiccation of different areas of the Caspian Sea. Publication III took the first step in quantifying and decoupling the effect of anthropogenic activities and climate change effect on river flow alteration impacting the water level in the southern Caspian Sea. Results suggested the major role played by anthropogenic activities in the fluctuation of the Caspian Sea level. To assess the direct impact of climate change on lake conditions, we determined the changes in the ice regime and their socio-ecological implications in Publication V.
The high complexity of the catchment-estuary-coastal system was examined in Publication II, showing the necessity of a basin-level perspective and the integration of the entire hydrological continuum, including upstream river regulation, land use changes, and coastal studies. By considering the interconnection between temperature, rain, flow, and salinity in Publication IV, we addressed the cumulative impacts of these variables on mangrove health. Understanding the hydrological requirements of mangroves enables policymakers to justify environmental flow strategies for mangrove restoration.
Last updated: 25.9.2023