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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to indicate the limitations of the studies that address the impact of climate change on groundwater resources and to suggest an improved approach. Design/methodology/approach – A general review, both from a groundwater hydrological and a climatological viewpoint, is given, oriented on the impact of climate change on groundwater resources. Findings – The impact of climate change on groundwater resources is not the subject of many studies in the scientific literature. Only rarely sophisticated downscaling techniques are applied to downscale estimated global circulation model (GCM) future precipitation series for a point or region of interest. Often it is not taken into account that different climate models calculate considerably different precipitation amounts (conceptual uncertainty). The joint downscaling of the meteorological variables that govern potential evapotranspiration (ET) is never done in the context of a study that assessed the impact of climate change on groundwater resources. It is desirable that actual ET is calculated in (groundwater) hydrological models on a physical basis, i.e. by coupling the energy and water balance at the Earth's surface. Originality/value – This review signalises a number of problems with published studies on the impact of climate change on groundwater resources. In many studies the method to downscale meteorological variables from a climate model to a hydrological model is not adequate. ET is often calculated in a strongly simplified manner and not all hydrological processes are modelled in a fully coupled fashion. More sophisticated downscaling approaches, physically based schemes to calculate ET and well‐calibrated, integrative hydrological models are needed.
International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 31, 2009
Keywords: Global warming; Groundwater; Precipitation
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