Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Dynamics of groundwater recharge near a semi-arid Mediterranean intermittent stream under wet and normal climate conditions


In arid and semi-arid stream-dominated systems, the temporal variability in groundwater recharge has not been widely addressed. Various questions remain about the sources of groundwater recharge, its patterns, and the appropriate measuring techniques. Hence, the main objective of the present study was to assess the changes that might affect the pattern of groundwater recharge under wetter than normal surface water availability. Therefore, the groundwater depth was monitored near a semi-arid Mediterranean intermittent stream on the piedmont of the High Atlas Mountains in the mountain catchment of the Wadi Rheraya over two hydrological years (2014–2016) with different climate conditions: extreme wet and normal conditions. Groundwater recharge was assessed using the episodic master recession algorithm. During the two years, the pattern of groundwater recharge was dominated by episodic events and by a high seasonality from wet seasons to dry seasons. In the wet year (2014–2015), the highest groundwater recharge was recorded following an extreme flood, which deeply replenished groundwater. Furthermore, an exceptional steady state of the groundwater depth was induced by a steady groundwater recharge rate. For several groundwater recharge events, the assessed recharge had multiple sources, mainly from streamflow at the local scale, but possibly from precipitation, underflow, deep percolation or irrigation return from the upstream part of the catchment. Local recharge by streamflow was likely to be short-lived, and lateral recharge was likely to last longer. Consequently, the episodic master recession algorithm estimated the total groundwater recharge that could encompass various sources. In the future, more studies and multidisciplinary approaches should be carried out to partition these sources and determine their specific contributions. In semi-arid stream-dominated systems, different groundwater recharge patterns induced by extreme hydrological events (e.g., wet events) and various potential sources of groundwater recharge should be considered when assessing and predicting groundwater recharge.


groundwater recharge; water table fluctuation; episodic master recession algorithm; episodic recharge; wet year; Wadi Rheraya

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