Precipitation intensity effects on groundwater recharge in the southwestern United States

Brian F. Thomas, Ali Behrangi, James S. Famiglietti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Episodic recharge as a result of infrequent, high intensity precipitation events comprises the bulk of groundwater recharge in arid environments. Climate change and shifts in precipitation intensity will affect groundwater continuity, thus altering groundwater recharge. This study aims to identify changes in the ratio of groundwater recharge and precipitation, the R:P ratio, in the arid southwestern United States to characterize observed changes in groundwater recharge attributed to variations in precipitation intensity. Our precipitation metric, precipitation intensity magnification, was used to investigate the relationship between the R:P ratio and precipitation intensity. Our analysis identified significant changes in the R:P ratio concurrent with decreases in precipitation intensity. The results illustrate the importance of precipitation intensity in relation to groundwater recharge in arid regions and provide further insights for groundwater management in nonrenewable groundwater systems and in a changing climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Precipitation intensity
  • Sustainable groundwater management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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