EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impact of climate change on groundwater level dynamics and karst spring discharge of several karst systems in the Mediterranean area

Guillaume Cinkus1, Vianney Sivelle1, Hervé Jourde1, Naomi Mazzilli2, Yves Tramblay1, Bartolomé Andreo3, Juan Antonio Barberá3, Rachida Bouhlila4, Joanna Doummar5, Jaime Fernández-Ortega3, Emna Gargouri-Ellouze4, Valeria Lorenzi6, Marco Petitta6, Nataša Ravbar7, Fairouz Slama4, and Nico Goldscheider8
Guillaume Cinkus et al.
  • 1Montpellier, HydroSciences Montpellier, Hydrogeology, France (
  • 2UMR 1114 EMMAH (AU-INRAE), Université d’Avignon, 84000 Avignon, France
  • 3Department of Geology and Centre of Hydrogeology, University of Málaga (CEHIUMA), 29071 Málaga, Spain
  • 4LR99ES19 Laboratory of Modelling in Hydraulics and Environment (LMHE), National Engineering School of TUNIS (ENIT), University of Tunis El Manar, BP 37, Tunis, 1002, Tunisia
  • 5Department of Geology, American University of Beirut, PO Box 11 - 0236/26, Beirut, Lebanon
  • 6Earth Sciences Department, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  • 7ZRC SAZU, Karst Research Institute, Titov trg 2, 6230 Postojna, Slovenia
  • 8Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute of Applied Geosciences, Kaiserstr. 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany

Anthropogenic activities and climate change exert significant pressures on the quality and availability of water resources in karst environments, which supply drinking water to about 9.2% of the world's population. Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation regimes will strongly impact water recharge processes. Understanding the karst hydrodynamic behaviour in the present context of climate change constitutes a major challenge for a sustainable management of karst groundwater. This study focuses on the Mediterranean area, where up to 90% of the drinking water supply depends on carbonate aquifers. The spring discharge and/or water level of six karst systems in the Mediterranean area (France, Italy, Lebanon, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia) are simulated using precipitation-discharge reservoir modelling tools. The studied karst systems are well known and have different characteristics in terms of climatic conditions, hydrogeological properties and available data. Using different model structures, the hydrological models are first calibrated and validated over a historical period and then used to simulate spring discharge time series under various climate projections (up to 2100). To account for uncertainties in climate projection, 12 coupled GCM/RCM climate models are considered with two emission scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) proposed in the framework of the CMIP5 initiative. The analysis of the forecasted spring discharge and water level time series focuses on (i) the long-term trends in the hydrological functioning of karst systems, (ii) the effects of climate change on spring discharges (intensity and duration of extreme events), and (iii) the study of uncertainties related to the exceedance of the known functioning ranges of the systems. Further discussion is also dedicated to model uncertainties in relation to model parameters and structure, climate models, and the estimation of potential evapotranspiration in future climate. This research has been conducted within the KARMA (Karst Aquifer Resources availability and quality in the Mediterranean Area) project into the PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) EU program.

How to cite: Cinkus, G., Sivelle, V., Jourde, H., Mazzilli, N., Tramblay, Y., Andreo, B., Barberá, J. A., Bouhlila, R., Doummar, J., Fernández-Ortega, J., Gargouri-Ellouze, E., Lorenzi, V., Petitta, M., Ravbar, N., Slama, F., and Goldscheider, N.: Impact of climate change on groundwater level dynamics and karst spring discharge of several karst systems in the Mediterranean area, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12285,, 2023.