Analyses of infrequent (quasi-decadal) large groundwater recharge events in the northern Great Basin: Their importance for groundwater availability, use, and management

Water Resources Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

There has been a considerable amount of research linking climatic variability to hydrologic responses in the western United States. Although much effort has been spent to assess and predict changes in surface water resources, little has been done to understand how climatic events and changes affect groundwater resources. This study focuses on characterizing and quantifying the effects of large, multiyear, quasi-decadal groundwater recharge events in the northern Utah portion of the Great Basin for the period 1960–2013. Annual groundwater level data were analyzed with climatic data to characterize climatic conditions and frequency of these large recharge events. Using observed water-level changes and multivariate analysis, five large groundwater recharge events were identified with a frequency of about 11–13 years. These events were generally characterized as having above-average annual precipitation and snow water equivalent and below-average seasonal temperatures, especially during the spring (April through June). Existing groundwater flow models for several basins within the study area were used to quantify changes in groundwater storage from these events. Simulated groundwater storage increases per basin from a single recharge event ranged from about 115 to 205 Mm3. Extrapolating these amounts over the entire northern Great Basin indicates that a single large quasi-decadal recharge event could result in billions of cubic meters of groundwater storage. Understanding the role of these large quasi-decadal recharge events in replenishing aquifers and sustaining water supplies is crucial for long-term groundwater management.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Analyses of infrequent (quasi-decadal) large groundwater recharge events in the northern Great Basin: Their importance for groundwater availability, use, and management
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1002/2016WR019060
Volume 52
Issue 10
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher AGU Publications
Contributing office(s) Utah Water Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 7819
Last page 7836
Country United States
State Utah