LTSER Negev highland - Israel
LTSER Negev highland
The Negev Highlands (NH) LTSER platform is situated between the Sinai Peninsula to the west and the Arava – Dead Sea depression to the east. This is a rocky terrain, covering an area of 17,000 sq. km with series of ridges at an altitude of 400-1000 m above sea level. As part of the Saharo-Arabian desert belt, the climate across the NH is arid to hyper-arid region: January’s mean daily temperature is 10 °C and July’s mean daily temperature is 25 °C The potential evaporation is approximately 2200 mm/y, and mean annual precipitation is 70–130 mm, with large inter annual variations. The rainy season occurs during the winter months, from November to March. The area is rich with unique natural landscapes. One of the most prominent of these are the Makhteshim, which is the largest erosion craters in the world. In addition to its unique landscapes, it is also a habitat for various species of flora and fauna that are adapted to arid zones and highlands, some of which are endemic to the area. The Negev Highland LTSER platform includes two LTER sites: Avdat Site in the arid zone and Makhtesh Ramon site in the hyper arid zone. Archaeological remains indicate that humans lived in the area for at least 1.4 million years. Today, about 10,000 residents live here, in towns, agricultural communities, small Bedouin tribal villages and tourist-agricultural farms. Most of it is concentrated along the main route (Route No. 40), while much of the area beyond the roads is either designated nature reserves or firing zones. The two main livelihoods in NH today are agriculture - mainly vines and olives, and tourism; Both are greatly affected by climate change. Agriculture relies on desalinated seawater imported into the area. However, it is affected by the climate in several ways: 1) flash floods cause increased soil erosion. 2) Long periods of drought during the winter, cause increased evaporation and therefore large water consumption. This is when the price of water is the main expense of the farmers, and increasing it may make agriculture unprofitable. 3) The uncertainty regarding the amount of precipitation and their timing, characterizes the arid environment. Recent climate changes are increasing this uncertainty and therefore make it very difficult for farmers to plan their land cultivation and expenses. Climatic uncertainty poses a significant challenge also for tourism operators; Jews and Bedouins, as well. This is due to the multiplicity of events of extreme climatic conditions (extreme cold or extreme heat), which repel tourists from reaching the area. And, a multitude of years when there is not enough precipitation to generate the famous spring bloom of the area. For the past 7 years, the NH LTSER's researchers have been working closely with three stakeholder groups in the area: winegrowers in the valleys, the Negev Highlands Tourism Association and Bedouin tourism operators. In Green Transformation we will actively engage with this group, through tow case studies: 1) The Desert Miracle farm - which will serve as a monitoring and dissemination knowledge farm; In a collaboration with the owner of the farm, R and D agriculture in the NH and the Center for Flood Research (DSASC). 2) Tourism in the NH; In collaboration with the NH Tourism Association. Through joint work with these NGOs, we will develop a long-term monitoring program and educational materials. The topics we will deal with: reducing soil erosion and increasing soil moisture, by using appropriate agricultural methods to multiply flash floods, which will be distributed to additional farmers in the area through activities at the monitoring farm. and to tourists through workshops of the Tourism Association. In the case of tourists, the aspect to be monitored is the number of tourists who come to the area in relation to the weather conditions. Together with the Tourist Association we will develop tourist-monitoring system. The high sensitivity of the arid region to climate change and the great exposure of the impact of these changes on animals, plants and humans, invite possible tourist-educational activities aimed at transformation in ways of thinking and behaving. An environmental education program and educational tools will be developed together with the Tourist Association. Their impact will be monitored in collaboration between the NH LTSER platforms researchers and tourism operators.
General Characteristics and Status