Infrastructure Engineering - Research Publications

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    Predicting groundwater recharge for varying landcover and climate conditions: a global meta-study
    Mohan, C ; Western, AW ; Wei, Y ; Saft, M (Copernicus Publications, 2018)
    Groundwater recharge is one of the important factors determining the groundwater development potential of an area. Even though recharge plays a key role in controlling groundwater system dynamics, much uncertainty remains regarding the relationships between groundwater recharge and its governing factors at a large scale. The aims of this study were to identify the most influential factors on groundwater recharge, and to develop an empirical model to estimate diffuse rainfall recharge at a global-scale. Recharge estimates reported in the literature from various parts of the world (715 sites) were compiled and used in model building and testing exercises. Unlike conventional recharge estimates from water balance, this study used a multimodel inference approach and information theory to explain the relation between groundwater recharge and influential factors, and to predict groundwater recharge at 0.50 resolution. The results show that meteorological factors (precipitation and potential evapotranspiration) and vegetation factors (land use and land cover) had the most predictive power for recharge. According to the model, long term global average annual recharge (1981–2014) was 134 mm/yr with a prediction error ranging from −8 mm/yr to 10 mm/yr for 97.2 % of cases. The recharge estimates presented in this study are unique and more reliable than the existing global groundwater recharge estimates because of the extensive validation carried out using both independent local estimates collated from the literature and national statistics from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In a water scarce future driven by increased anthropogenic development, the results from this study will aid in making informed decision about groundwater potential at a large scale.