Evaluation of anthropogenic factors influencing groundwater level: Application of spatial modeling

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.

2 Department of Water, Wastewater and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil, Water and Environmental Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.



In this study, different spatial models for panel data have been estimated in order to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic factors on the depth of groundwater resources, which includes all the provinces of Iran between the years 2008 and 2019. The investigated anthropogenic factors are the population, the area under irrigated orchard farming, the area under irrigated crop farming, per capita industrial value-added, per capita services value-added and the level of non-dependency on ground water resources. The results of the spatial modeling illustrate that the first three factors, i.e., the population and the area under irrigated orchard and crop farming, are the main factors influencing the depth of groundwater resources, so that one percent increase in each of them bring about an increase in the depth of aquifers by 0.196, 0.089, and 0.062 percent, respectively. Furthermore, the current distribution of the population and irrigated agriculture activities throughout the country are not compatible with the groundwaters’ conditions and the level of dependency on these resources, and the continuity of this situation will only lead to the persistence of the depletion of groundwater resources. In addition, the modeling results reveal that industrial development has a negligible contribution to the depth of aquifers, and the development of the service sector, unlike other economic activities can even help restoring groundwater resources. The level of non-dependency on groundwater resources can also help to restore these resources by reducing the pressure on groundwater resources.


  1. Anselin, L. (1988). Spatial Econometrics: Methods and Models. Dordrecht: Springer.
  2. Ashraf, S., Nazemi, A., & AghaKouchak, A. (2021). Anthropogenic drought dominates groundwater depletion in Iran. Scientific Reports, 11(1).
  3. Babaee, S., Mousavi, Z., Masoumi, Z., Malekshah, A. H., Roostaei, M., & Aflaki, M. (2020). Land subsidence from interferometric SAR and groundwater patterns in the Qazvin plain, Iran. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 41(12), 4778-4796.
  4. Bayat Varkeshi, M., Farahani Dastjani, M., & Sough, G. (2018). Effect of Meteorological Drought on Groundwater Resources (Case Study: Komijan Aquifer in Markazi Province). Iran-Water Resources Research, 14(1), 114-124. (In Persian).
  5. Belotti, F., Hughes, G., & Mortari, A. P. (2017). Spatial Panel-data Models Using Stata, The Stata Journal, 17(1), 139-180.
  6. Cotterman, K. A., Kendall, A. D., Basso, B., & Hyndman, D. W. (2018). Groundwater depletion and climate change: future prospects of crop production in the Central High Plains Aquifer. Climatic Change, 146(1-2), 187-200.
  7. Delbari, M., Bahreinimotlagh, M., & Amiri, M. (2013). Spatio-temporal variability of groundwater depth in the Eghlid aquifer in southern Iran. Earth Sciences Research Journal, 17(2), 105-114.
  8. Devineni, N., Perveen, S., & Lall, U. (2022). Solving groundwater depletion in India while achieving food security. Nature Communications, 13(1), 1-10.
  9. Dombi, M. (2019). The service-stock trap: analysis of the environmental impacts and productivity of the service sector in Hungary. Environmental Research Letters, 14(6), 065011.
  10. Elhorst, J. P. (2014). Spatial Econometrics: From Cross-Sectional Data to Spatial Panels. Heidelberg: Springer.
  11. Ghazi, B., Jeihouni, E., & Kalantari, Z. (2021). Predicting groundwater level fluctuations under climate change scenarios for Tasuj plain, Iran. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 14(2), 1-12.
  12. Gholami, V., Khaleghi, M. R., Teimouri, M., & Sahour, H. (2023). Prediction of annual groundwater depletion: An investigation of natural and anthropogenic influences. Journal of Earth System Science, 132(4), 1-17.
  13. He, L., Feng, H., Luo, P., Luo, Y., & Xu, Y. (2023). Groundwater stress induced by shale resources development in the US: Evolution, response, and mitigation. Applied Energy, 340, 121037.
  14. Jain, M., Fishman, R., Mondal, P., Galford, G. L., Bhattarai, N., Naeem, S., Lall, U., Balwinder-Singh, & DeFries, R. S. (2021). Groundwater depletion will reduce cropping intensity in India. Science Advances, 7(9).
  15. Jeihouni, E., Eslamian, S., Mohammadi, M., & Zareian, M. J. (2019). Simulation of groundwater level fluctuations in response to main climate parameters using a wavelet–ANN hybrid technique for the Shabestar Plain, Iran. Environmental Earth Sciences, 78(10), 1-9.
  16. Jia, X., O’Connor, D., Hou, D., Jin, Y., Li, G., Zheng, C., Ok, Y. S., Tsang, D. C. W., & Luo, J. (2019). Groundwater depletion and contamination: Spatial distribution of groundwater resources sustainability in China. Science of The Total Environment, 672, 551-562.
  17. Kalu, I., Ndehedehe, C. E., Okwuashi, O., Eyoh, A. E., & Ferreira, V. G. (2022). A new modelling framework to assess changes in groundwater level. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 43, 101185.
  18. Kovacs, K., & West, G. (2016). The Influence of Groundwater Depletion from Irrigated Agriculture on the Tradeoffs between Ecosystem Services and Economic Returns. PLoS ONE, 11(12).
  19. Kovanda, J., & Weinzettel, J. (2017). Economy‐wide Material Flow Indicators on a Sectoral Level and Strategies for Decreasing Material Inputs of Sectors. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21(1), 26–37.
  20. LeSage, J., & Pace, R. K. (2009). Introduction to Spatial Econometrics. Florida: CRC Press.
  21. Li, H., Calder, C. A., & Cressie, N. (2007). Beyond Moran’s I: Testing for Spatial Dependence Based on the Spatial Autoregressive Model. Geographical Analysis, 39(4), 357-375.
  22. Liu, H., & Song, Y. (2020). Financial development and carbon emissions in China since the recent world financial crisis: Evidence from a spatial-temporal analysis and a spatial Durbin model. Science of The Total Environment, 715, 136771.
  23. Madani, K. (2014). Water management in Iran: what is causing the looming crisis? Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 4(4), 315-328.
  24. Madani, K., AghaKouchak, A., & Mirchi, A. (2016). Iran’s Socio-economic Drought: Challenges of a Water-Bankrupt Nation. Iranian Studies, 49(6), 997-1016.
  25. Moridi, A. (2017). State of Water Resources in Iran. International Journal of Hydrology, 1(4).
  26. Noori, R., Maghrebi, M., Mirchi, A., Tang, Q., Bhattarai, R., Sadegh, M., Noury, M., Torabi Haghighi, A., Kløve, B., & Madani, K. (2021). Anthropogenic depletion of Iran’s aquifers. Scientific Reports, 118(25).
  27. Nouri, M., Homaee, M., Pereira, L. S., & Bybordi, M. (2023). Water management dilemma in the agricultural sector of Iran: A review focusing on water governance. Agricultural Water Management, 288, 108480.
  28. Panda, D. K., Ambast, S. K., & Shamsudduha, M. (2021). Groundwater depletion in northern India: Impacts of the sub-regional anthropogenic land-use, socio-politics and changing climate. Hydrological Processes, 35(2), e14003.
  29. Saatsaz, M. (2020). A historical investigation on water resources management in Iran. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 22(3), 1749-1785.
  30. Saemian, P., Tourian, M. J., AghaKouchak, A., Madani, K., & Sneeuw, N. (2022). How much water did Iran lose over the last two decades? Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 41, 101095.
  31. Shahi, A. (2019). Drought: The Achilles heel of the Islamic republic of Iran. Asian Affairs, 50(1), 18-39.
  32. Steger, S., & Bleischwitz, R. (2011). Drivers for the use of materials across countries. Journal of Cleaner Production, 19(8), 816-826.
  33. Stern, D. I. (2004). Environmental Kuznets Curve. In Cutler J. Cleveland (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Energy (Vol. 2, pp. 517–525). Elsevier.
  34. Tabari, H., Nikbakht, J., & Shifteh Some’e, B. (2012). Investigation of groundwater level fluctuations in the north of Iran. Environmental Earth Sciences, 66(1), 231–243.
  35. Xu, X., & Wang, Y. (2017). Study on Spatial Spillover Effects of Logistics Industry Development for Economic Growth in the Yangtze River Delta City Cluster Based on Spatial Durbin Model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(12), 1508.
  36. Zamani, T., Karimi, H., Tavakoli, M., & Alimoradi, S. (2018). Factors Affecting the Groundwater Drawdown in Mehran Plain, Ilam Province. Hydrogeology, 2(2), 17-28. (In Persian).
  37. Zhou, K., Yang, J., Yang, T., & Ding, T. (2023). Spatial and temporal evolution characteristics and spillover effects of China’s regional carbon emissions. Journal of Environmental Management, 325, 116423.