Groundwater recharge and the intensification of precipitation under climate change

Theme: Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor:

Richard Taylor

Geography, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Chris Brierley

Geography, UCL

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Project Description:

Recent evidence from multi-decadal groundwater-level records across Africa and GRACE satellite data for 37 of the world’s largest aquifer systems reveals the strong influence of intensive seasonal (and sub-seasonal) rainfall on groundwater storage. Robust relationships have so far been traced between large-scale controls on rainfall variability such as El Niño and La Niña (opposite dipole) on groundwater recharge in eastern and southern Africa, respectfully. There now exists several possibilities for PhD study interrogating these collated (in situ, piezometric) and developed (GRACE satellite) datasets that include among others: (1) assessing relationships among large-scale controls on climate variability and episodically intensive recharge in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally; (2) projecting the impact of the intensification of precipitation under climate change on groundwater recharge; and (3) assessing the processes and controls (e.g. climate, soils, geology) on groundwater recharge.

Policy Impact of Research:

Resolution of the impact of the intensification of precipitation under climate change on groundwater recharge would serve to inform adaptive strategies exploiting groundwater to sustain freshwater supplies and withdrawals by mitigating the risk of flooding through Managed Aquifer Recharge and impacts crop yields through groundwater-fed irrigation.


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