Hydrogeological characterisation of groundwater over Brazil using remotely sensed and model products
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For Brazil, a country frequented by droughts and whose rural inhabitants largely depend on groundwater, reliance on isotope for its monitoring, though accurate, is expensive and limited in spatial coverage. We exploit total water storage (TWS) derived from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to analyse spatial-temporal groundwater changes in relation to geological characteristics. Large-scale groundwater changes are estimated using GRACE-derived TWS and altimetry observations in addition to GLDAS and WGHM model outputs. Additionally, TRMM precipitation data are used to infer impacts of climate variability on groundwater fluctuations. The results indicate that climate variability mainly controls groundwater change trends while geological properties control change rates, spatial distribution, and storage capacity. Granular rocks in the Amazon and Guarani aquifers are found to influence larger storage capability, higher permeability ( >10-4 m/s) and faster response to rainfall (1 to 3 months' lag) compared to fractured rocks (permeability <10-7 m/s and lags > 3 months) found only in Bambui aquifer. Groundwater in the Amazon region is found to rely not only on precipitation but also on inflow from other regions. Areas beyond the northern and southern Amazon basin depict a ‘dam-like’ pattern, with high inflow and slow outflow rates (recharge slope > 0.75, discharge slope < 0.45). This is due to two impermeable rock layer-like ‘walls' (permeability <10-8 m/s) along the northern and southern Alter do Chão aquifer that help retain groundwater. The largest groundwater storage capacity in Brazil is the Amazon aquifer (with annual amplitudes of > 30 cm). Amazon's groundwater declined between 2002 and 2008 due to below normal precipitation (wet seasons lasted for about 36 to 47% of the time). The Guarani aquifer and adjacent coastline areas rank second in terms of storage capacity, while the northeast and southeast coastal regions indicate the smallest storage capacity due to lack of rainfall (annual average is rainfall <10 cm).
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