Analysis of the water balance under regional scenarios of climate change for arid zones of Colombia.

Jesús Efren Ospina Noreña, Carlos Alberto Domínguez-Ramírez, Emel Enrique Vega-Rodríguez, Aquiles Enrique Darghan-Contreras, Luis Ernesto Rodríguez-Molano

Abstract

This workdiscusses in detail the parameters involved in water balance. The analysis is performed by considering the current conditions and climate change in a climatic zone that represents the arid regions of Colombia: The municipality of Uribia (desert) in the state of La Guajira. For this purpose, some climatological stations, which by their reported values of temperature and precipitation can be considered representative of the arid or desert climatic zones according to the Lang’s index (PCP/Tavg), were selected. Then, with historical temperature and precipitation values registered at the station of the area, the baseline was built and its behavior analyzed. The station data were obtained from the database of the Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (Institute of Hidrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies) of Colombia. After estimating the baseline scenarios, the current water balance on the site was calculated by taking into account the original variables and including new parameters, if necessary, for the calculation of the simplified continuity equation. The analysis included parameters such as potential and actual evapotranspiration, moisture of soil, storage or recharge and their changes, water deficit and excess, runoff, periods of recharge, and water use. Anomalies in temperatures (ºC) and precipitation were calculated by taking into account the new climate scenarios “representative concentration pathways” for different periods (short- and long-term). With the anomalies identified, the baseline for the above-mentioned variables was adjusted. Again, the associated parameters were analyzed and discussed in the context of water balance. In climate change scenarios, the water balance projects a prospective exacerbation of desert conditions in the Uribia-Guajira region, since a decrease in the Lang’s index from its current value of 18.7 (desert) to 17.0 in 2050 and 14.5 in 2070 is expected, as a consequence of a decrease in precipitation (2.4 and 11.0%) and an increase in annual temperature of about 1.7 ºC with the HadGEM2-ES model for the period 2041-2060 and 3.7 ºC with the GFDL-CM3 model for the period 2061-2080. This can be verified by means of the Thornthwaite climate classification, which categorizes the area of study as an arid zone with limited and no excess of water. This deficit could lead to serious environmental consequences, social problems and a decline in the industrial and agricultural productivity of the zone.

Keywords

Cimate change; water balance; scenarios; arid zones

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