The purpose of the present study was to develop a methodology for the evaluation of direct climate impacts on shallow groundwater resources and its country-scale application in Hungary. A modular methodology was applied. It comprised the definition of climate zones and recharge zones, recharge calculation by hydrological models, and the numerical modelling of the groundwater table. Projections of regional climate models for three different time intervals were applied for the simulation of predictive scenarios. The investigated regional climate model projections predict rising annual average temperature and generally dropping annual rainfall rates throughout the following decades. Based on predictive modelling, recharge rates and groundwater levels are expected to drop in elevated geographic areas such as the Alpokalja, the Eastern parts of the Transdanubian Mountains, the Mecsek, and Northern Mountain Ranges. Less significant groundwater level drops are predicted in foothill areas, and across the Western part of the Tiszántúl, the Duna-Tisza Interfluve, and the Szigetköz areas. Slightly increasing recharge and groundwater levels are predicted in the Transdanubian Hills and the Western part of the Transdanubian Mountains. Simulation results represent groundwater conditions at the country scale. However, the applied methodology is suitable for simulating climate change impacts at various scales.
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