Shift in groundwater recharge of the Bengal Basin from rainfall to surface water

Yusuf Jameel, Mason Stahl, Holly Michael, Benjamin C. Bostick, Michael S. Steckler, Peter Schlosser, Alexander van Geen, Charles Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Groundwater supports agriculture and provides domestic water for over 250 million people in the Bengal Basin. Here we investigate the source of groundwater recharge using over 2500 stable water isotope measurements from the region. We employ a Monte Carlo statistical analysis to find distributions of possible components of recharge by accounting for the variability of isotope ratios in each of the possible recharge sources. We find that groundwater recharge sources have shifted in the last decades with a ~50% increase in recharge from stagnant surface water bodies (mostly during the latter part of the dry season) and a relative decrease in contribution from direct infiltration of precipitation (which occurs mostly in the early monsoon). We attribute this shift to an increase in standing water in irrigated rice fields and ponds, and an increase in the downward hydraulic gradient during the dry season driven by pumping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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