This project developed an integrated land cover/hydrological modeling framework using remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) data, stakeholder input, climate information and projections, and empirical data to estimate future groundwater recharge on the Island of Maui, Hawaiʻi, USA. End-of-century mean annual groundwater recharge was estimated under four future land cover scenarios: Future 1 (conservation-focused), Future 2 (status-quo), Future 3 (development-focused), and Future 4 (balanced conservation and development), and two downscaled climate projections: a coupled model intercomparison project (CMIP) phase 5 (CMIP5) representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 “dry climate” future and a CMIP3 A1B “wet climate” future. Results were compared to recharge estimated using the 2017 baseline land cover to understand how changing land management and climate could influence groundwater recharge. Estimated recharge increased island-wide under all future land cover and climate combinations and was dominated by specific land cover transitions. For the dry future climate, recharge for land cover Futures 1 to 4 increased by 12%, 0.7%, 0.01%, and 11% relative to 2017 land cover conditions, respectively. Corresponding increases under the wet future climate were 10%, 0.9%, 0.6%, and 9.3%. Conversion from fallow/grassland to diversified agriculture increased irrigation, and therefore recharge. Above the cloud zone (610 m), conversion from grassland to native or alien forest led to increased fog interception, which increased recharge. The greatest changes to recharge occurred in Futures 1 and 4 in areas where irrigation increased, and where forest expanded within the cloud zone. Furthermore, new future urban expansion is currently slated for coastal areas that are already water-stressed and had low recharge projections. This study demonstrated that a spatially-explicit scenario planning process and modeling framework can communicate the possible consequences and tradeoffs of land cover change under a changing climate, and the outputs from this study serve as relevant tools for landscape-level management and interventions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited