Predicted changes in climate will lead to seawater intrusion in the Querença-Silves (QS) coastal aquifer (south Portugal) during the coming century if the current water-resource-management strategy is maintained. As for much of the Mediterranean, average rainfall is predicted to decrease along with increasing seasonal and inter-annual variability and there is a need to understand how these changes will affect the sustainable use of groundwater resources. A density-coupled flow and transport model of the QS was used to simulate an ensemble of climate, water-use and adaptation scenarios from 2010 to 2099 taking into account intra- and inter-annual variability in recharge and groundwater use. By considering several climate models, bias correction and recharge calculation methods, a degree of uncertainty was included. Changes in rainfall regimes will have an immediate effect on groundwater discharge; however, the effect on saltwater intrusion is attenuated by the freshwater–saltwater interfaces’ comparatively slow rate of movement. Comparing the effects of adaptation measures demonstrates that the extent of intrusion in the QS is controlled by the long-term water budget, as the effectiveness of both demand and supply oriented measures is proportional to the change in water budget, and that to maintain the current position, average groundwater discharge should be in the order of 50 × 106 m3 yr−1.
- Coastal aquifers
- Numerical modelling
- Resource management
- Salt-water/freshwater relations