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Title: CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON GROUNDWATER RESOURCES IN THE JAFFNA PENINSULA, SRI LANKA

Author: V. Tyriakidis, R.K. Guganesharajah and S.K. Ouki

Year: 2009

Publisher: European Water Resources Association (EWRA)

Description:

The groundwater resources of the Jaffna Peninsula, Sri Lanka, constitute an example of aquifers subjected to severe and excessive pumping. Groundwater is the prime source of water for agricultural development in the peninsula, but its potential is limited as over-abstraction from the aquifers results in saline intrusion. The recharge to the groundwater in the peninsula is almost entirely from rainfall percolation and the climate is characterised by distinct dry and wet seasons. A three-dimensional groundwater flow model has been applied with the view to assess the impacts of the climate on the groundwater resources system in the area. Two different future scenarios have been used to evaluate the climate change impacts in the peninsula and were compared with a scenario of the existing conditions. The first scenario examined the effects of increasing the rainfall and the temperature, and the second scenario considered an additional increase in sea level and runoff. The results showed that during the dry season, water levels increased in the middle of the aquifers but were almost the same in the coastal areas. On the other hand, during the wet season, there was a significant increase in the water levels. Furthermore, the model showed that a significant quantity of fresh water ends up in the sea through seepage and through the lagoons. Consequently, the results demonstrated that the aquifers
can be used as underground reservoirs to store the excess water in the rainy season and to satisfy water demand in the dry season. In addition, the changes in rainfall and temperature were identified as the predominant factors of impact, while changes in sea level rise and runoff were found to be only of secondary influence for the groundwater resources. It was concluded that climate change could improve the existing condition of the aquifer in the peninsula under a capable and efficient water management strategy.