Groundwater recharge by precipitation is the main source of groundwater resources, which are widely used in the European part of Russia (ER). The main goal of the presented studies is to analyze the effect of observed climate changes on the processes of groundwater recharge. For this purpose analysis of long-term meteorological data as well as water budget and groundwater recharge simulation were used. First, meteorological data of 22 weather stations, located from south (Lat 46°) to north (Lat 66°) of ER for historical (1965–1988) and modern (1989–2018) periods were compared to investigate the observed latitudinal changes in annual and seasonal averages of precipitation, wind speed, air temperature, and humidity. Second, water budget in critical zone was simulated, using codes SURFBAL and HYDRUS-1D. SURFBAL generates upper boundary conditions for unsaturated flow modelling with HYDRUS-1D, taking into account snow accumulation and melting as well as topsoil freezing, which are important processes that affect runoff generation and the infiltration of meltwater. Water budget and groundwater recharge simulations based on long-term meteorological data and soil and vegetation parameters, typical for the investigated region. The simulation results for the historical and modern periods were compared to find out the impact of climate change on the average annual and seasonal averages of surface runoff, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge, as well as to assess latitudinal differences in water budget changes. The results of the simulation showed, that despite a significant increase in air temperature, groundwater recharge in the southern regions did not change, but even increased up to 50–60 mm/year in the central and northern regions of ER. There are two main reasons for this. First, the observed increase in air temperature is compensated by a decrease in wind speed, so there was no significant increase in evapotranspiration in the modern period. Also, the observed increase in air temperature and precipitation in winter is the main reason for the increase in groundwater recharge, since these climate changes lead to an increase in water infiltration into the soil in the cold period, when there is no evapotranspiration.
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