Evaluation of the impact of climate changes on water storage and groundwater recharge at the watershed scale
- Cite this article as:
- Bouraoui, F., Vachaud, G., Li, L. et al. Climate Dynamics (1999) 15: 153. doi:10.1007/s003820050274
The increase of concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will certainly affect hydrological regimes. Global warning is thus expected to have major implications on water resources management. Our objective is to present a general approach to evaluate the effect of potential climate changes on groundwater resources. In the current stage of knowledge, large-scale global climate models are probably the best available tools to provide estimates of the effects of raising greenhouse gases on rainfall and evaporation patterns through a continuous, three dimensional simulation of atmospheric, oceanic and cryospheric processes. However their spatial resolution (generally some thousands of square kilometers) is not compatible with that of watershed hydrologic models. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of potential climate changes upon groundwater resources. A general methodology is proposed in order to disaggregate outputs of large-scale models and thus to make information directly usable by hydrologic models. As an illustration, this method is applied to a CO2-doubling scenario through the development of a local weather generator, although many uncertainties are not yet assessed about the results of climate models. Two important hydrological variables: rainfall and potential evapotranspiration are thus generated. They are then used by coupling with a physically based hydrological model to estimate the effects of climate changes on groundwater recharge and soil moisture in the root zone.