The KARMA project consists of experienced researchers covering all required competences to achieve progress in the hydrogeological understanding and sustainable management of karst water resources in the Mediterranean area in terms of water availability and quality. Geographically, the consortium covers the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean region, on the European and African side, and in the Middle East. This equal regional distribution is important in order to represent the regionally different challenges and experiences, but also the different climatic, hydrological and geological settings. Furthermore, the consortium also represents an equal gender balance and age distribution. Scientifically, the focus of the project is on groundwater resources in karst aquifers. Therefore, the consortium consists of hydrogeologists and hydraulic engineers dealing with groundwater research and represents an ideal balance between “common scientific basis” and “diverse expertise and scientific specialization” to match the project’s objectives.
The overall concept consists in advancing karst groundwater resources research across all scales, ranging from the scale of individual karst springs over the catchment / aquifer / test-site scale to the scale of the entire Mediterranean region. Wherever possible, methods will be applied at several scales, and results obtained at one scale will be transferred to other scales. KARMA will contribute to the development and adoption of innovative and sustainable solutions for water management and, consequently, to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Possible socio-economic benefits include creation of new jobs (in the field of water resources management), increased competitiveness of companies (e.g. in the sensor development and data processing for monitoring and early-warning systems), as well as social and environmental impacts (improved water availability and quality for human consumption and ecosystems).
The overarching objective of the KARMA project is to achieve substantial progress in the hydrogeological understanding and sustainable management of karst groundwater resources in the Mediterranean area in terms of water availability and quality. At the scale of the entire region, the main objective is to accomplish the first consistent and detailed Mediterranean Karst Aquifer Map and database (MEDKAM) by building on our existing WOKAM map and database. MEDKAM will include more detailed information related to aquifer type, recharge, vulnerability to contamination and groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDE), and will allow to perform more advanced analyses with respect to floodwater storage and water stress under conditions of global change (climate change, land-use change, population increase). At the catchment or aquifer scale, the objective is to advance and compare transferable modeling tools for improved predictions of climate-change impacts and better-informed water management decisions, and to prepare vulnerability maps as tools for groundwater quality protection. These tools will be tested at five test sites (i.e. karst aquifers or karst spring catchments) distributed over the entire Mediterranean region (Figure 1). Hydrological monitoring, isotope studies and tracer tests will be carried out to achieve better hydrogeological understanding and to obtain data for the calibration and validation of models and vulnerability maps. At the scale of individual springs, the objective is to develop and implement monitoring and early-warning systems (EWS) for groundwater contamination, focusing on short-term contamination events, but also addressing long-term trends. Karst springs are often characterized by long periods of sufficient water quality, interrupted by short but severe contamination events. It is a major challenge to identify these events in time and respond accordingly (Pronk et al. 2007). Under conditions of climate and land-use change, long-term trends in karst water quality are also a concern for many water suppliers.
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