Groundwater abstraction for irrigation and its impacts on low flows in a watershed in Northwest Germany

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Low flows of the Ilmenau River (1434 km2) in northwest Germany have decreased by about 25% over the last 50 years. In the same period, moderate climate changes have taken place and annual groundwater abstractions for sprinkler irrigation have increased by up to 50 hm3 (million m3), with a strong variation due to the respective prevailing weather conditions. Time-series analyses with multiple regression analysis allow detecting and quantifying different influences on low flows. It is also shown that farmers allocate irrigation water volumes carefully according to seasonal precipitation and temperatures. Decline of groundwater levels in summer and the low flow situation are aggravated by the cumulative effect of higher irrigation in drier years. Groundwater recharge and recovery of the water table have been observed subsequently during the winter season.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)566-576
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2015

    Research areas

  • Germany, Groundwater, Irrigation, Low flows, Multiple regressions
  • Ecosystems Research