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Modeling climate change impacts on groundwater resources using transient stochastic climatic scenarios

Abstract : Several studies have highlighted the potential negative impact of climate change on groundwater reserves, but additional work is required to help water managers plan for future changes. In particular, existing studies provide projections for a stationary climate representative of the end of the century, although information is demanded for the near future. Such time-slice experiments fail to account for the transient nature of climatic changes over the century. Moreover, uncertainty linked to natural climate variability is not explicitly considered in previous studies. In this study we substantially improve upon the state-of-the-art by using a sophisticated transient weather generator in combination with an integrated surface-subsurface hydrological model (Geer basin, Belgium) developed with the finite element modeling software ''HydroGeoSphere.'' This version of the weather generator enables the stochastic generation of large numbers of equiprobable climatic time series, representing transient climate change, and used to assess impacts in a probabilistic way. For the Geer basin, 30 equiprobable climate change scenarios from 2010 to 2085 have been generated for each of six different regional climate models (RCMs). Results show that although the 95% confidence intervals calculated around projected groundwater levels remain large, the climate change signal becomes stronger than that of natural climate variability by 2085. Additionally, the weather generator's ability to simulate transient climate change enabled the assessment of the likely time scale and associated uncertainty of a specific impact, providing managers with additional information when planning further investment. This methodology constitutes a real improvement in the field of groundwater projections under climate change conditions.
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Pascal Goderniaux, Serge Brouyere, Stephen Blenkinsop, Aidan Burton, Hayley J. Fowler, et al.. Modeling climate change impacts on groundwater resources using transient stochastic climatic scenarios. Water Resources Research, American Geophysical Union, 2011, 47 (12), pp.W12516. ⟨10.1029/2010WR010082⟩. ⟨insu-00673059⟩

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