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An indicator approach to assessing and predicting the quantitative state of groundwater bodies on the regional scale with a special focus on the impacts of climate change

Journal article
Authors Roland Barthel
Published in Hydrogeology Journal
Volume 19
Issue 3
Pages 525-546
ISSN 14312174 (ISSN)
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 525-546
Language en
Keywords Climate change, Germany, Groundwater assessment, Integrated water resources management, Regional scale, climate effect, groundwater resource, hydrogeology, methodology, quantitative analysis, recharge, resource assessment, river discharge, water level, Austria, Italy, Switzerland
Subject categories Hydrology, Water in nature and society


An integrated approach for assessing the availability of groundwater under conditions of 'global-change' is presented. The approach is embedded in the DANUBIA system developed by the interdisciplinary GLOWA-Danube Project to simulate the interaction of natural and socio-economic processes within the Upper Danube Catchment (UDC, 77,000 km2 and located in parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy). The approach enables the quantitative assessment of groundwater bodies (zones), which are delineated by intersecting surface watersheds, regional aquifers, and geomorphologic regions. The individual hydrogeological and geometrical characteristics of these zones are accounted for by defining characteristic response times and weights to describe the relative significance of changes in variables (recharge, groundwater level, groundwater discharge, river discharge) associated with different states. These changes, in each zone, are converted into indices (GroundwaterQuantityFlags). The motivation and particularities of regional-scale groundwater assessment and the background of GLOWA-Danube are described, along with a description of the developed methodology. The approach was applied to the UDC, where several different climate scenarios (2011-2060) were evaluated. A selection of results is presented to demonstrate the potential of the methodology. The approach was inspired by the European Water Framework Directive, yet it has a stronger focus on the evaluation of global-change impacts. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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