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New system for the assessment of annual groundwater recharge from rainfall in the United Arab Emirates


In this study, the first groundwater recharge map for United Arab Emirates (UAE) was developed using the recharge potential and water table fluctuation methods. Recharge potential estimates were made using information about infiltration rate, soil type, ground slope, geological and hydrogeological factors, and the availability of rainfall harvesting infrastructure and were validated by measurements of water table rise in alluvial aquifers in wadis. Based on this information, the total recharge in the UAE is estimated to be about 133 million cubic meters per year (MCM/year). Annual recharge rates are calculated to vary between 1 and 28% of precipitation in the different regions of UAE depending on several natural and manmade parameters including, among others, recharge enhancing infrastructure. Estimates from the two methods are 98% in agreement; which suggests that the recharge potential method is suitable for estimating aquifer’s recharge in UAE and arid regions. The water table fluctuation method was found to be more suitable for assessing recharge through gravel plains and wadis in mountainous areas.

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(modified from British Geological Survey and UAE Ministry of Energy 2006)

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Correspondence to A. M. Ebraheem.

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Sherif, M.M., Ebraheem, A.M., Al Mulla, M.M. et al. New system for the assessment of annual groundwater recharge from rainfall in the United Arab Emirates. Environ Earth Sci 77, 412 (2018).

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  • Groundwater recharge
  • Recharge potential
  • Water table fluctuation
  • GIS
  • Water management