Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Significant baseflow reduction in the Sao Francisco River Basin

Version 1 : Received: 16 September 2020 / Approved: 17 September 2020 / Online: 17 September 2020 (13:20:04 CEST)

How to cite: Lucas, M.C.; Kublik, N.; Rodrigues, D.B.B.; Meira Neto, A.A.; Almagro, A.; Melo, D.D.C.D.; Zipper, S.C.; Oliveira, P.T.S. Significant baseflow reduction in the Sao Francisco River Basin. Preprints 2020, 2020090410 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202009.0410.v1). Lucas, M.C.; Kublik, N.; Rodrigues, D.B.B.; Meira Neto, A.A.; Almagro, A.; Melo, D.D.C.D.; Zipper, S.C.; Oliveira, P.T.S. Significant baseflow reduction in the Sao Francisco River Basin. Preprints 2020, 2020090410 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202009.0410.v1).

Abstract

Water scarcity is a key challenge to global development. In Brazil, the Sao Francisco River Basin (SFB) has experienced water scarcity problems because of decreasing streamflow and increasing demands from multiple sectors. However, the drivers of decreased streamflow, particularly the potential role of surface-groundwater interaction, have not been yet investigated. Here, we assess long-term trends in baseflow, quickflow, and streamflow of the SFB during 1980–2015 and constrain the most likely drivers of observed decreases through trend analysis of precipitation (P), evapotranspiration (ET), and terrestrial water storage change (TWS). We found that over 82% of the observed decrease in streamflow can be attributed to a significant decreasing baseflow trend (< -20 m3 s-1 y-1) along the SFR with spatial agreement between decreased baseflow, increased ET, and irrigated agricultural land. We also noted a decrease in TWS across the SFB with trends exceeding -20 mm y-1. Overall, our findings indicate that decreasing groundwater contributions (i.e., baseflow) is providing the observed reduction in total SFR flow. A lack of significant P trends indicates that only P variability likely has not caused the observed baseflow reduction, mainly in the Middle and Sub-middle SFB. Therefore, groundwater and surface withdrawals may be likely a driver of water scarcity over the SFB.

Subject Areas

Streamflow depletion; trend analysis; irrigation; land use change; GRACE; water scarcity

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