Groundwater recharge in Africa: identifying critical thresholds

Groundwater recharge: will the pumps run dry?

The problem Groundwater recharge is one of the most difficult parameters to measure in the assessment of water resources yet is critical for reliable projections of sustainable resource development.

The approach A continent-wide review of more than 200 recharge studies. Where possible the data were extracted to identify relationships between rainfall and recharge, and in particular examine evidence for thresholds controlling recharge.

Key findings The importance of multiple methods; reporting recharge as decadal, rather than annual averages; that while broad relationships exist between average rainfall and recharge, such relationships becomes non-linear when long-term average annual rainfall is less than 1000 mm.  Here rainfall intensity becomes particularly important.  As future rainfall is expected to intensify with climate change, deeper understanding of the role of episodic high intensity rainfall events in governing recharge will become increasingly important.

Where? Africa-wide

Consortium grant? No.

Principal Investigator: Professor Alan MacDonald (British Geological Survey, BGS)

Research Team:

  • Prof. Alan MacDonald, British Geological Survey
  • Helen Bonsor, British Geological Survey
  • Richard Taylor, University College London
  • Mike Edmunds, University of Oxford
  • Tamiru Abiye, University of Witwatersrand
  • Ibrahim Goni, University of Maiduguri
  • Seifu Kebede, Addis Ababa University
  • Moshood Tijani, University of Ibadan

Research Organisations:

  • British Geological Survey (BGS) – Grant: NE/L002035/1
  • University College London (UCL)
  • University of Oxford (UO)
  • Addis Ababa University (AAU)
  • University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID)
  • University of Ibadan (UI)
  • University of Witwatersrand (UW)

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