Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-112
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-112
06 May 2024
 | 06 May 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Mapping groundwater dependent ecosystems using a high-resolution global groundwater model

Nicole Gyakowah Otoo, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja, Michelle T. H. van Vliet, Aafke M. Schipper, and Marc F. P. Bierkens

Abstract. Global population growth, economic growth, and climate change have led to a decline in groundwater resources, which are essential for sustaining groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs). To understand their spatial and temporal dependency on groundwater, we developed a framework for mapping GDEs at a large scale, using results from a high-resolution global groundwater model. To evaluate the proposed framework, we focus on the Australian continent because of the abundance of groundwater depth observations and the presence of a GDE atlas. We first classify GDEs into three categories: aquatic (rivers and lakes), wetlands (inland wetlands), and terrestrial (phreatophyte) GDEs. We then define a set of rules for identifying these different ecosystems, which are based, among others, on groundwater levels, and groundwater discharge. We run the groundwater model in both steady state and transient mode (period of 1979–2019) and apply the set of rules to map the different types of GDEs using model outputs. For steady-state, GDEs are mapped based on presence or absence, and results are evaluated against the Australian GDE atlas using a hit rate, false alarm, and critical success index. Results show a hit rate above 80 % for each of the three GDE types. From transient runs, we analyse the changes in groundwater dependency between two time periods, 1979–1999 and 1999–2019 and observe a decline in the average number of months that GDEs depend on groundwater resources, pointing at an increasing threat to these ecosystems. The proposed framework and methodology provide a basis for analysing how global impacts of climate change and water use may affect GDEs extent and health.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Nicole Gyakowah Otoo, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja, Michelle T. H. van Vliet, Aafke M. Schipper, and Marc F. P. Bierkens

Status: open (until 01 Jul 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2024-112', Tom Gleeson, 08 May 2024 reply
Nicole Gyakowah Otoo, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja, Michelle T. H. van Vliet, Aafke M. Schipper, and Marc F. P. Bierkens
Nicole Gyakowah Otoo, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja, Michelle T. H. van Vliet, Aafke M. Schipper, and Marc F. P. Bierkens

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Short summary
The contribution of groundwater to groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) is declining as a result of an increase in groundwater abstractions and climate change. This may lead to loss of habitat and biodiversity. This proposed framework enables the mapping and understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of GDEs on a large scale. The next step is to assess the global impacts of climate change and water use on GDEs' extent and health.