Estimation of Streamflow and Fluvial Sediment Loads in the White Volta Basin under Future Climate Change
Abstract:The White Volta Basin is one of the major sub-catchments of the Volta Basin of West Africa, covers an estimated 106,000 km2 and is shared between Burkina Faso and Ghana. The basin currently faces many challenges such as flooding, drought, high temporal and spatial variation of rainfall, deforestation, land degradation, climate change and high population growth rate. These challenges put pressure on the quantity and quality of the water resources in the basin. Current infrastructure developments in the basin have already impacted on the hydrological cycle, and future development plans potentially pose a threat to the sustainability of the resources if not appropriately managed. Information on runoff and sediment loads is a very important requirement for sustainable management of the water resources in the basin.
This study therefore seeks to assess runoff and sediment loads in the White Volta Basin using the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and provide understanding of how climate change impacts on future runoff and sediment loads in the basin.The model was calibrated for the period 1991 to 2003 and validated for the period 2004 to 2013.The model was also validated at one gauging station on the main river and another on a tributary. Analysis of the water balance of the basin shows that 4.90% of the simulated mean annual precipitation is converted to surface runoff while 84.37% evapotranspires. The results also show that the White Volta Basin contributes approximately 5.68x106tonnes/yr of sediment load into the Volta Lake.
The calibrated model was used to simulate the water balance for the present time slice (1975-2005) as the basis for comparing with the future (2025-2055) water balance in the WhiteVolta Basin. The results show that annual surface runoff and sediment loads could increase by 56% and 70% respectively. A projected reduction by 0.54% in actual evapotranspiration is however estimated for the selected time period in the basin.