Author(s): Maria Gabriela Castrellon Romero; Marina R. L. Mautner; Laura Foglia; Ioana Popescu; Jose R. Fabrega
Keywords: Panama; Water balance; Climate change; Land use; Best management practices
Abstract: In tropical regions of the world, groundwater recharge is favored by the presence of forests, and it occurs mainly during high-intensity rainfall events which are expected to increase in frequency due to climate change. It is therefore possible that climate change will benefit groundwater recharge in the tropical regions of the world, provided that ideal forest cover conditions are present. To investigate possible land use management scenarios in the face of climate change in the tropics, a groundwater flow model was built for the Estibaná River Sub-Catchment, located in Panama. Six different land use management scenarios were explored, each of which proposed a different strategy to increase forest cover with respect to the year 2019. Climate change effects were simulated using four different CMIP6 global circulation models (GCM). In general, scenarios with the highest percentage of forest cover have the highest groundwater recharge, independently of the distribution of forest cover within the study area. Similarly, climate change scenarios with the highest precipitation predict highest recharge disregarding of the land management scenario. These projections provide a tool to inform public policy regarding best land use management practices that secure water availability for present and future generations.