Assessment of climate change impacts on groundwater resources using RICCAR data in the Beni-Amir aquifer (Tadla complex, Morocco) - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

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Assessment of climate change impacts on groundwater resources using RICCAR data in the Beni-Amir aquifer (Tadla complex, Morocco)

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL1.CCS/2021/RICCAR/TECHNICAL REPORT.12


Country: Kingdom of Morocco

Publication Type: Reports & studies

Cluster: Climate Change and Natural Resource Sustainability

Focus Area: Climate change, Natural resource sustainability

Initiatives: RICCAR, Arab Centre for Climate Change Policies, Advancing water and food security

SDGs: Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Keywords: Climate, Climate change, Morocco, Irrigation, Temperature, Groundwater, Water resources

Assessment of climate change impacts on groundwater resources using RICCAR data in the Beni-Amir aquifer (Tadla complex, Morocco)

September 2022

An assessment was performed to evaluate climate change impacts on groundwater resources availability and use in Morocco, specifically groundwater abstraction from the Tadla aquifer complex system that supplies domestic water as well as large irrigation schemes in the Beni-Amir agricultural area. The pilot study was based on projections of the Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR) which showed that the Arab region will experience rising temperatures and largely decreasing precipitation, as well as changes in runoff and recharge.

A digital database for the study area was generated and a three-dimensional conceptual groundwater model was also designed and simulated using a comprehensive set of physical processes. The model was compared, calibrated and verified with observational data. Anthropogenic and climate forcing based on two scenarios, RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, were implemented in order to project impacts of climate change on the groundwater system and long-term impacts on water and crops.

The main results from this study confirmed that groundwater resources in the Tadla aquifer system will be affected by climate change owing to a reduction in natural recharge from reduced precipitation (the mean will be 20 per cent less at the end of the century for RCP 4.5; and 50 per cent less for RCP 8.5) and increased evapotranspiration caused in part by higher temperatures (the mean is about 2°C increase for RCP 4.5 and more than 4°C increase for RCP 8.5 at the end of the century). This is evident in a reduction of the water balance accompanied by a decline in groundwater table levels for both scenarios varying from 10m for RCP 4.5 to more than 25m for RCP 8.5, which makes some aquifer areas completely dry.

These results are of great importance as key information for decision makers regarding the future of the sustainable exploitation of groundwater resources in the aquifer. Indeed, the results of the RCP 8.5 scenario present great cause for concern for the future of irrigation and agriculture in the study area since some farms are likely to be abandoned for lack of groundwater. On the other hand, the results of the RCP 4.5 scenario are less severe but will require rational and economical management of water resources.

Adaptation measures are urgently needed which take account of these impacts of climate change on groundwater resources specifically in improving productivity in the agriculture sector.

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Climate change , Natural resource sustainability
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