Modeled impacts of predicted climate change on recharge and groundwater levels

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Authors: Scibek, J; Allen, DM
Year: 2006
Journal: Water Resour. Res. 42   Article Link (DOI)
Title: Modeled impacts of predicted climate change on recharge and groundwater levels
Abstract: A methodology is developed for linking climate models and groundwater models to investigate future impacts of climate change on groundwater resources. An unconfined aquifer, situated near Grand Forks in south central British Columbia, Canada, is used to test the methodology. Climate change scenarios from the Canadian Global Coupled Model 1 (CGCM1) model runs are downscaled to local conditions using Statistical Downscaling Model (SDSM), and the change factors are extracted and applied in LARS-WG stochastic weather generator and then input to the recharge model. The recharge model simulated the direct recharge to the aquifer from infiltration of precipitation and consisted of spatially distributed recharge zones, represented in the Hydrologic Evaluation of Landfill Performance (HELP) hydrologic model linked to a geographic information system (GIS). A three-dimensional transient groundwater flow model, implemented in MODFLOW, is then used to simulate four climate scenarios in 1-year runs (1961-1999 present, 2010-2039, 2040-2069, and 2070-2099) and compare groundwater levels to present. The effect of spatial distribution of recharge on groundwater levels, compared to that of a single uniform recharge zone, is much larger than that of temporal variation in recharge, compared to a mean annual recharge representation. The predicted future climate for the Grand Forks area from the downscaled CGCM1 model will result in more recharge to the unconfined aquifer from spring to the summer season. However, the overall effect of recharge on the water balance is small because of dominant river-aquifer interactions and river water recharge.
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