Due to the effects of global climate change on duration, frequency and number of drought events, the occurrence of prolonged droughts, referred to as “megadroughts” (lasting for two decades or longer) will become more probable in the future. Thus, it is crucial for countries especially in arid and semi-arid regions of the world to develop appropriate preparedness plans for megadrought risk management. Since groundwater is the key water resource in these regions, it is important to reliably quantify the maximum sustainable extraction to ensure a sufficient groundwater reserve, i.e. the Strategic Groundwater Reserve, for a probable future megadrought event. For this purpose, a new concept of Probable Maximum Drought is proposed in this study, based on the concept of Probable Maximum Flood. As the spillways of large dams are designed based on the Probable Maximum Flood to minimize the probability of failure and the associated casualties and damages, the Probable Maximum Drought concept is proposed to estimate Strategic Groundwater Reserves to limit the consequences of prolonged droughts, including damage and threats to societal stability. This will allow water resources managers and policymakers to develop appropriate strategies to adapt and restrict development plans of a given region based on a sustainable megadrought risk management.
- Climate change
- Probable maximum drought
- Strategic groundwater reserve
- Sustainable water resources management