Date of Award

6-2003

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Dr. Abdel Mohsen Onsy,

Second Advisor

Vijay P. Singh,

Third Advisor

Dr. Fares M. Howari,

Abstract

Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing have witnessed an enormous interest in various applications related to geology, hydrology, hydrogeology, and water resources. The use of GIS and remote sensing has become a common practice worldwide. The UAE is no exception. The study of groundwater resources and its sustainability is of prime concern for authorities in the UAE. Although, groundwater may not be suitable, in most cases, for drinking and other potable purposes, it represents the main source for irrigation in the country. About 85% of the total water consumption in the UAE is groundwater.

This study is devoted to the application of GIS and remote sensing in the assessment of groundwater resources in the northern area of AI Ain. The importance of the current study evolves from the vital role of groundwater resources in the sustainable development in the UAE, with specific reference to agricultural development. Despite the tremendous increase in the production of the desalinated water in the country, groundwater would always be regarded as a strategic resource for the country. Therefore, every possible effort should be conducted to assess, protect and develop the groundwater resources.

The thesis includes six chapters. Chapter one discusses the importance of groundwater resources in arid regions, in general, and the UAE, in particular. Chapter two is devoted to the concepts and basics of the geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. Chapter three presents an overall review on the geomorphology and geological aspects within the greater area of AI Ain. The development of a GIS database and the contour maps for groundwater levels above mean seawater levels are elaborated in Chapter four. Chapter five presents an assessment for the development in the agricultural areas using remote sensing and GIS. It also includes a parametric study for the chemical parameters of groundwater in the study area. Chapter six presents the summary and conclusions of the study. Samples of the collected data are included in the appendices.

A comprehensive analysis was conducted and contour maps for the groundwater levels were developed using the GIS. Based on the GIS analysis and the developed maps, it is concluded that groundwater levels are reclining with the exception of few years where heavy rainfall events were encountered. The mean value for the groundwater level within the study area in 1992 was 243.9 in amsl. In 2002, the corresponding value was 241.42 m above the same datum indicating an average decline of 2.5 m in the groundwater level. In some areas the decline in the water table levels was more than 10.0 m.

The agriculture development in the study area was identified using remote sensing images and GIS. Comparison between the total cultivated area in 1987, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2000 was done. The data were processed using Er-Mapper and Erdas image processing software. The cultivated areas were digitized from remote sensing images and the resulting areas were calculated using GIS features. The total cultivated area within the study domain increased from 21.747 km2 in 1987 to 56.197 km2 in 2000. It should be emphasized, however, that the development in some of these areas might be regarded as unsustainable. In many cases the concentrations of chemical parameters were relatively higher than the maximum allowable limits for drinking purposes. Recommendations are made for future studies.

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