A participatory approach to assessing groundwater recharge under future climate and land-cover scenarios, Tutuila, American Samoa

Chris Shuler, Laura Brewington, Aly I. El-Kadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Study region: Oceania, South Pacific, Polynesia. Study Focus: Changing climates have the potential to significantly impact global water resources availability. On many volcanic islands, groundwater is the primary drinking water source, thereby making it essential to manage this limited resource carefully. In this study, we developed high temporal and spatial resolution groundwater recharge estimates for the Island of Tutuila, American Samoa using the Soil Water-Balance-2 (SWB2) model. Additionally, we predicted future recharge by running the calibrated model with combinations of dynamically downscaled general circulation climate model (GCM) predictions, and future land-cover scenarios developed collectively with local stakeholder groups. New hydrological insights: Present-day results indicate 57 % of Tutuila's rainfall becomes groundwater recharge, 8 % evaporates from the canopy, 15 % evapotranspires, and 20 % discharges as stormflow-runoff. Future climate scenarios suggest recharge may increase by 8 % or 14 % depending on global emissions. Land-cover was a less significant driver of hydrologic change, although increases in impervious surfaces showed a negative impact on recharge. This work is maintained as an active open-source project on GitHub, the world's leading software development platform, thereby enhancing transparency, reproducibility, and participation from stakeholders and managers in American Samoa. This study is the first of its kind from a location within the South Pacific Convergence Zone, and provides insights into how human activities on global and local levels affect the future sustainability of essential resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100785
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Island sustainability
  • Land-cover
  • Natural resource management
  • Scenario planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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