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Modelling the effects of climate change and its uncertainty on UK chalk groundwater resources from an ensemble of global climate model projections

journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-27, 10:38 authored by Christopher R. Jackson, Rakia Meister, Christel Prudhomme
Projections of climate for the 2080s from an ensemble of global climate models (GCMs) run under a medium-high (A2) emissions scenario are used to simulate changes in groundwater resources of a Chalk aquifer in central-southern England. Few studies that have investigated the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources have addressed uncertainty. In this paper the uncertainty associated with use of a suite of GCM outputs in catchment scale impact studies is quantified. A range of predictions is obtained by applying precipitation and temperature change factors, derived from thirteen GCMs, to a distributed recharge model and a groundwater flow model of the Chalk aquifer of the Marlborough and Berkshire Downs and south-west Chilterns in the UK. The ensemble average suggests there will be a 4.9% reduction in annual potential groundwater recharge across the study area, although this is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. The spread of results for simulated changes in annual potential groundwater recharge range from a 26% decrease to a 31% increase by the 2080s, with ten predicting a decrease and three an increase. Whilst annual recharge is not found to change significantly, the multi-model results suggest that the seasonal variation in the groundwater resource will be greater, with higher recharge rates during a reduced period of time in winter. The spread of predictions for changes in river baseflow, at the bottom of the largest river sub-catchment, is from -16 to +33% in March and from -68 to -56% in October. The effects of climate change are shown to depend significantly on the type of land-use. It is concluded that further research is required to quantify the effect of different vegetation types on Chalk covered by different thicknesses of soil and their response to a changing climate.


This work was funded by NERC-BGS and NERC-CEH core science budget.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Journal of Hydrology






12 - 28


JACKSON, C., MEISTER, R. and PRUDHOMME, C., 2011. Modelling the effects of climate change and its uncertainty on UK chalk groundwater resources from an ensemble of global climate model projections. Journal of Hydrology, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.12.028.


Elsevier (© NERC)


  • VoR (Version of Record)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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