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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-211
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-211
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  02 Jul 2020

02 Jul 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Stress-testing groundwater and baseflow drought responses to synthetic climate change-informed recharge scenarios

Jost Hellwig, Michael Stoelzle, and Kerstin Stahl Jost Hellwig et al.
  • Environmental Hydrological Systems, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, 79085, Germany

Abstract. Groundwater is the main source of freshwater and maintains streamflow during drought. Potential future groundwater and baseflow drought hazards depend on systems' sensitivity to altered recharge conditions. We performed groundwater model experiments using three different generic scenarios to estimate the groundwater- and baseflow drought sensitivity to changes in recharge. The scenarios stem from a stakeholder co-design process that specifically followed the idea of altering known drought events from the past, i.e. asking whether altered recharge could have made a particular event worse. Across Germany groundwater responses to the scenarios are highly heterogeneous with groundwater heads in the North more sensitive to long-term recharge and in the Central German Uplands to short-term recharge variations. Baseflow droughts are generally more sensitive to intra-annual dynamics and baseflow responses to the scenarios are smaller compared to the groundwater heads. The groundwater drought recovery time is mainly driven by the hydrogeological conditions with slow (fast) recovery in the porous (fractured rock) aquifers. In general, a seasonal shift of recharge (i.e. less summer recharge and more winter recharge) will therefore have low effects on groundwater and baseflow drought severity. A lengthening of dry spells might cause much stronger responses, especially in regions with slow groundwater response to precipitation. As climate models suggest such directional changes for Germany in the future, the results of the stress tests suggest that groundwater resources in Germany may not decrease in general, but water management may need to consider the potential for more severe groundwater droughts in the large porous aquifers following prolonged meteorological droughts.

Jost Hellwig et al.

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Jost Hellwig et al.

Jost Hellwig et al.

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Latest update: 25 Oct 2020
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Short summary
Potential future groundwater and baseflow drought hazards depend on systems' sensitivity to altered recharge conditions. With three generic scenarios we found different sensitivities across Germany driven by hydrogeology. While changes in drought hazard due to seasonal recharge shifts will be rather low, a lengthening of dry spells could cause stronger responses in regions with slow groundwater response to precipitation urging local water management to prepare for more severe droughts.
Potential future groundwater and baseflow drought hazards depend on systems' sensitivity to...
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