Prof. Steve Brenner of the Department of Geography and Environment is currently the Deputy Team Leader and Scientific Coordinator of the Red Sea component of the RDC feasibility study. This project is being conducted under the auspices of Thetis, an Italian engineering and environmental services company. Overall funding for the feasibility study is being provided by the World Bank.
Brenner is responsible for the development and application of the simulation models used to assess the potential environmental impacts of withdrawing water from the northern Gulf of Eilat.
He is also an investigator in the Dead Sea component of the study, where he adapted a three dimensional ocean circulation model to study the unique conditions of the Dead Sea. This component is being conducted under the auspices of TAHAL and the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI), a government institute operating under the Earth Science Research Administration within the Ministry of National Infrastructures.
For more than ten years, Brenner has been a member of a consortium of European and Mediterranean scientists that has developed an operational ocean forecasting system for the Mediterranean Sea. Like the weather forecasting counterpart, this system routinely produces daily forecasts for the temperature, sea surface height, and currents in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea for lead times of up to 10 days.
Brenner’s group has also investigated ways to add an ecosystem component to the forecast model with a special emphasis on coastal waters. The objective of this component is to understand the fate and impact of pollutants introduced into the sea from various sources such as river runoff or accidental sewage discharges.
Brenner’s research has also focused on understanding the effects on the Mediterranean Sea of both natural and anthropogenic processes of climate change. One classic example of anthropogenic change is the damming of the Nile River in 1964, which eliminated a major source of fresh water input from the Eastern Mediterranean.
As a result, the average salinity of the sea has been increasing; a process which may potentially lead to significant changes in the circulation of the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as its influence on the Atlantic Ocean. His group recently investigated the potential impact of global change on the circulation of the Mediterranean through the extensive use of simulations with a state-of-the-art ocean circulation model driven by scenarios of the future projected by various climate models.
Due to the fact that Israel is located in a semi-arid region, the country relies heavily on the winter rainfall to replenish its fresh water sources such as Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
In a collaborative study, Brenner’s group assessed the potential use of a global atmospheric model in providing seasonal (3 month) predictions of the precipitation over the Mediterranean region.
The next phase was to then use a regional model with much higher spatial resolution to refine the forecasts. This led to a clearer understanding of the Mediterranean Sea as an important local influence on the heat and moisture balances of the atmosphere, on seasonal time scales. Based on these findings, Brenner’s group is now investigating methods to include this effect through the use of a regional coupled ocean-atmosphere model.