[en] Several studies have highlighted the potential negative impact of climate change on groundwater reserves but additional work is required to help water managers to plan for future changes. In particular, existing studies provide projections for a stationary climate representative of the end of the century, although information is demanded for the near-future. Such time-slice experiments fail to account for the transient nature of climatic changes over the century. Moreover, uncertainty linked to natural climate variability is not explicitly considered in previous studies. In this study, we substantially improve upon the state-of-the-art by using a sophisticated transient weather generator (WG) in combination with an integrated surface-subsurface hydrological model (Geer basin, Belgium) developed with the finite element modelling software 'HydroGeoSphere'. This version of the WG enables the stochastic generation of large numbers of equiprobable climatic time series, representing transient climate change, and used to assess impacts in a probabilistic way. For the Geer basin, 30 equiprobable climate change scenarios from 2010 to 2085 have been generated for each of 6 different RCMs. Results show that although the 95% confidence intervals calculated around projected groundwater levels remain large, the climate change signal becomes stronger than that of natural climate variability by 2085. Additionally, the WG ability to simulate transient climate change enabled the assessment of the likely timescale and associated uncertainty of a specific impact, providing managers with additional information when planning further investment. This methodology constitutes a real improvement in the field of groundwater projections under climate change conditions.
Aquapôle - AQUAPOLE
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS