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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Dec 2018

Research article | 10 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Multi-model approach to quantify groundwater level prediction uncertainty using an ensemble of global climate models and multiple abstraction scenarios

Syed M. Touhidul Mustafa1, M. Moudud Hasan1, Ajoy Kumar Saha1, Rahena Parvin Rannu1, Els Van Uytven2, Patrick Willems1,2, and Marijke Huysmans1 Syed M. Touhidul Mustafa et al.
  • 1Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering – Hydraulics Section, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark 40 box 2448, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

Abstract. Worldwide, groundwater resources are under a constant threat of overexploitation and pollution due to anthropogenic and climatic pressures. For sustainable management and policy making a reliable prediction of groundwater levels for different future scenarios is necessary. Uncertainties are present in these groundwater level predictions and originate from greenhouse gas scenarios, climate models, conceptual hydro(geo)logical models (CHMs) and groundwater abstraction scenarios. The aim of this study is to quantify the individual uncertainty contributions using an ensemble of 2 greenhouse gas scenarios (representative concentration pathway 4.5 and 8.5), 22 global climate models, 15 alternative CHMs and 5 groundwater abstraction scenarios. This multi-model ensemble approach was applied to a drought prone study area in Bangladesh. Findings of this study, firstly, point at the strong dependence of the groundwater levels on the CHMs considered. All groundwater abstraction scenarios showed a significant decrease in groundwater levels. If the current groundwater abstraction trend continues, the groundwater level is predicted to decline about 5 to 6 times faster for the future period 2026–2047 compared to the baseline period (1985–2006). Even with a 30 % lower groundwater abstraction rate, the mean monthly groundwater level would decrease by up to 14 m in the southwestern part of the study area. The groundwater abstraction in the northwestern part of Bangladesh has to reduce by 60 % of the current abstraction to ensure sustainable use of groundwater. Finally, the difference in abstraction scenarios was identified as the dominant uncertainty source. CHM uncertainty contributed about 23 % of total uncertainty. The alternative CHM uncertainty contribution is higher than the recharge scenario uncertainty contribution, including the greenhouse gas scenario and climate model uncertainty contributions. It is recommended that future groundwater level prediction studies should use multi-model and multiple climate and abstraction scenarios.

Syed M. Touhidul Mustafa et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Syed M. Touhidul Mustafa et al.
Syed M. Touhidul Mustafa et al.
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