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Utilizing GIS for the collection of key variables in the analysis of an international freshwater basin spatial database Public Deposited

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  • The Geographic Information System (GIS) is an invaluable tool in manipulating and interpreting world scale datasets. In recent years it has become the standard link between water resource study and the ever-increasing numbers of high quality data sets. This paper describes the use of Geographic Information Systems for gathering and analyzing spatial information to facilitate identification of international river basins at risk for future conflict over freshwater resources. The methodology and data described here was produced as part of the Basins at Risk (BAR) project, an offshoot of the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD), directed by Dr. Aaron T. Wolf, Oregon State University. In order to better ascertain variables to predict which international river basins may be at risk of water related conflict, the GIS was used to: 1) Update the international river basins of the TFDD, allowing the best fit to the most recent USGS hydrography coverage of the world; 2) Link current and historical spatial and non-spatial information of the BAR project by formulating a temporal GIS that demarcates international river basins on a one-year resolution dating from 1946 to the present; and, 3) Aggregate selective gridded datasets in order to better ascertain key variables associated with cooperation or conflict over freshwater resources. Where possible, the most recent and up to date world scale datasets were used. The combination of GIS techniques and manipulation of recently available datasets proved to be extremely effective in the production of potential variables for the assessment of water related cooperation and conflict.
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