Abstract

Groundwater is a critical component of water resources and has become the primary water supply for agricultural and domestic uses in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD). Widespread groundwater level declines have occurred in the VMD over recent decades, reflecting that extraction rates exceed aquifer recharge in the region. However, the impacts of climate variability on groundwater system dynamics in the VMD remain poorly understood. Here, we explore recent changes in groundwater levels in shallow and deep aquifers from observed wells in the VMD and investigate their relations to the annual precipitation variability and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). We show that groundwater level responds to changes in annual precipitation at time scales of approximately 1 year. Moreover, shallow (deep) groundwater in the VMD appears to correlate with the ENSO over intra-annual (inter-annual) time scales. Our findings reveal a critical linkage between groundwater level changes and climate variability, suggesting the need to develop an understanding of the impacts of climate variability across time scales on water resources in the VMD.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The connections between groundwater level change and climate variability in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD) are examined using vector autoregression and wavelet analysis.

  • Groundwater level response to changes in annual precipitation in the VMD is largest within the first year.

  • Groundwater level in shallow (deep) aquifers in the VMD appears to correlate with ENSO over intra-annual (inter-annual) time scales.

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