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IGCP 565: Supporting water resource management with improved Earth observations ...

Workshop 4 (November 21-22, 2011):

Documentation and Output:


IGCP 565 Project Workshops

IGCP 565 Workshop 4: Integration of geodetic observations and products in models of the hydrological cycle
Support for water management through hydrological models and data assimilation

November 21-22, 2011
Johannesburg, South Africa

Groundwater Monitoring and Management for Sustainability: A pilot test in California with possible applications to the Nile Basin

Norman L. Miller (1), Charles Brush (2), Jay Famiglietti (3), Hans-Peter Plag (4)
(1) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley
(2) California Department of Water Resources
(3) University of California, Irvine
(4) University of Nevada, Reno

California’s water resources are primarily from snowmelt runoff from the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. Depending on the year, Sierra Nevada snowmelt provides seventy percent of the water resources needed to sustain urban, agricultural, ecological, and other sector needs. With increasing temperatures due to climate change the Sierra Nevada snowmelt is occurring earlier and with decreasing snow cover area. Such change may mimic drought scenarios and dramatically alter water resource availability and management in California. A fundamental requirement for drought water management is knowledge of the total groundwater resources and the rate in which it is depleted. Application of remote sensed Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data represents an important new approach toward quantifying these values. The primary uncertainties are the spatial scale required for an accurate GRACE analysis and an insufficient number and frequency of well observations for ground-truth. In this study, an initial quantification of long-term droughts - an analogue for climate change related snowpack reduction – has been performed to illustrate the potential for subsurface storage to limit the adverse impacts of drought and snowpack reduction on water supply in the California. The impacts of the droughts are modeled for four different regions in the Central Valley, including the Sacramento Basin, Eastside, the San Joaquin Basin, and the Tulare Basin. Results show that drought scenario impacts are concentrated in the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins. The Sacramento Basin and Eastside regions experience comparatively small changes in surface diversions during such droughts.