Identification of the influencing factors on groundwater drought and depletion in north-western Bangladesh

Syed Md Touhidul Mustafa*, Khodayar Abdollahi, Boud Verbeiren, Marijke Huysmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Groundwater drought is a specific type of hydrological drought that concerns groundwater bodies. It may have a significant adverse effect on the socio-economic, agricultural, and environmental conditions. Investigating the effect of different climatic and anthropogenic factors on groundwater drought provides essential information for sustainable planning and management of (ground) water resources. The aim of this study is to identify the influencing factors on groundwater drought in north-western Bangladesh, to understand the forcing mechanisms. A multi-step methodology is proposed to achieve this objective. The standardised precipitation index (SPI) and reconnaissance drought index (RDI) have been used to quantify the aggregated deficit between precipitation and the evaporative demand of the atmosphere, i.e. meteorological drought. The influence of land-cover patterns on the groundwater drought has been identified by calculating spatially distributed groundwater recharge as a function of land cover. Groundwater drought is defined by a threshold method. The results show that the evapotranspiration and rainfall deficits are determining meteorological drought, which shows a direct relation with groundwater recharge deficits. Land-cover change has a small effect on groundwater recharge but does not seem to be the main cause of groundwater-level decline (depletion) in the study area. The groundwater depth and groundwater-level deficit (drought) is continuously increasing with little correlation to meteorological drought or recharge anomalies. Overexploitation of groundwater for irrigation seems to be the main cause of groundwater-level decline in the study area. Efficient irrigation management is essential to reduce the growing pressure on groundwater resources and ensure sustainable water management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1375
Number of pages19
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number5
Early online date18 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

The research presented in this report is linked to the work on the ‘identification of influencing factors of groundwater resources in a drought context’ done within the framework of the GroWaDRISK project (BELSPO SSD programme, project number SD/RI/05A). The authors would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for reviewing our manuscript very carefully and for their constructive comments and suggestions, which significantly improved this work.


  • Bangladesh
  • Groundwater depletion
  • Groundwater drought
  • Groundwater recharge/water budget
  • Over-abstraction


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