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Identification of the influencing factors on groundwater drought and depletion in north-western Bangladesh

Mustafa, Syed Md. Touhidul, Abdollahi, Khodayar, Verbeiren, Boud, Huysmans, Marijke
Hydrogeology journal 2017 v.25 no.5 pp. 1357-1375
adverse effects, drought, environmental factors, evaporative demand, evapotranspiration, groundwater, groundwater recharge, irrigation management, land cover, planning, rain, socioeconomics, water resources, water table, Bangladesh
Groundwater drought is a specific type of hydrological drought that concerns groundwater bodies. It may have a significant adverse effect on the socio-economic, agricultural, and environmental conditions. Investigating the effect of different climatic and anthropogenic factors on groundwater drought provides essential information for sustainable planning and management of (ground) water resources. The aim of this study is to identify the influencing factors on groundwater drought in north-western Bangladesh, to understand the forcing mechanisms. A multi-step methodology is proposed to achieve this objective. The standardised precipitation index (SPI) and reconnaissance drought index (RDI) have been used to quantify the aggregated deficit between precipitation and the evaporative demand of the atmosphere, i.e. meteorological drought. The influence of land-cover patterns on the groundwater drought has been identified by calculating spatially distributed groundwater recharge as a function of land cover. Groundwater drought is defined by a threshold method. The results show that the evapotranspiration and rainfall deficits are determining meteorological drought, which shows a direct relation with groundwater recharge deficits. Land-cover change has a small effect on groundwater recharge but does not seem to be the main cause of groundwater-level decline (depletion) in the study area. The groundwater depth and groundwater-level deficit (drought) is continuously increasing with little correlation to meteorological drought or recharge anomalies. Overexploitation of groundwater for irrigation seems to be the main cause of groundwater-level decline in the study area. Efficient irrigation management is essential to reduce the growing pressure on groundwater resources and ensure sustainable water management.