Groundwater Prize (Co-Winner)


Dr. Abdulkader Larabi Dr. Abdulkader Larabi (University Mohammed V-Agdal, Morocco)

Sustainable use of coastal freshwater resources is an important problem for the Arab region, as well as all coastal regions around the world. The research work is a joint research effort developed in Morocco at the Laboratory of Identification and Modeling the Natural Environment (LIMEN), University of Mohamed V Agdal, Rabat, Morocco in the framework of research projects funded by national and international organisms, such as the EU, NSF and Fulbright programs.

The objective of this research is to characterise seawater intrusion and to develop optimal models for sustainable water management in coastal aquifers of Morocco and other countries in the world. The expected outcomes include the optimal exploitation of groundwater under the constraint of seawater intrusion, better management of monitoring programs and recharge assessment, and water resources protection. Water resources managers and decision makers can utilize these tools to conduct their planning and decision making more efficiently

An efficient mathematical code with robust solvers is developed and used to study the coastal aquifers, including analyzing available data such as groundwater piezometric head, pumping activities, and salinity concentrations. A third part such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Graphic User Interface (GUI) is integrated for pre- and post-processing, especially for mesh generation and visualization. Problems involving saltwater intrusion, upconing near pumping wells, optimal pumping rate, artificial recharge assessment, and their environmental and socio-economic impacts, are also studied. A combination of groundwater numerical simulation tools and optimization models is also used to accomplish these objectives.

The model has been validated and applied to study some Moroccan field cases, including seawater intrusion problems. Numerical groundwater models are constructed, based on finite element and finite difference techniques, to develop an understanding of the groundwater flowing systems, the pollution migration, evaluate the effects of development on groundwater resources and support groundwater management. For this purpose, several regional models have been developed for areas confronted with problems of seawater intrusion, depletion or rapid degradation of the groundwater quality, including Morocco and Palestine. These developed models are both based on the sharp interface (GEO_SWIM) and dispersive solute transport approaches (GEO_SWIM, SEAWAT, CODESA-3D).

Depending on the local physical conditions, one physical approach is selected to be applied for the case study. For developing these seawater intrusion regional models, a methodological approach has been followed for each case study, and will serve as a model to perform future studies of similar coastal aquifers. The main objectives of these regional models are to study the aquifer water balance, and the impact of the groundwater exploitation on the flow system in the future with a view to directing the existing socio-economical activities, including agricultural, industrial, tourism and others within a rational development plan, so as to keep the available water resources away from depletion and seawater intrusion. Emphasis is made on the importance of such project based on the fact that groundwater resources are limited under scarcity and seawater intrusion risk, and the necessity to rationally plan their exploitation.

Several cases are selected, as the demonstration sites for these integrated models, from Morocco and Palestine (Gaza); because their aquifers are suffering serious saltwater intrusion from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea due to overexploitation of groundwater and the limited natural and artificial recharge. Scenarios varying recharge locations, pumping regulation, and optimal pumping rate distribution are simulated to assess the best seawater intrusion control strategies, especially these case studies are located in the Arab region which is characterized by arid and semi-arid climates varying climate, less natural recharge and groundwater exploitation.

Winner Profile


Professor Abdulkader Larabi is a faculty member of the University Mohammed V-Agdal, Rabat Morocco in the School of Engineering (Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs).

Born at Missour-Morocco in January 4, 1957 and received his first high education in the High School Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs (B.Sc. of Engineering – Hydrological Engineering, Oct.1976- June 81).

From September 1989 to 1994 he studied at the University of Brussels, Interuniversity Postgraduate Programme in Hydrology, where he obtained the degree of M.Sc. in Hydrology (Groundwater Modelling) and his PhD in Civil Engineering.

Between 1982 and 1986 he was employed as assistant in the department of Earth sciences at the University Mohammed I, Oujda-Morocco. From 1987 up to now he is employed in the Mohammed V Agdal University – Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs (1987-1994 as ‘assistant professor’, 1994 – 1997 as ‘Associate professor’ and in 1997 he was appointed ‘full professor’ (A).

In 2001 he was appointed Full Professor (B).

Post doctoral research at the University of Florida, department of Agricultural Engineering – Laboratory of Hydrology in 1995 on Groundwater Modelling as a Fulbright Fellow, and on 1997 he conducted a post doctoral research on Modelling unsaturated flow in porous media at Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse – Institut Polytechnique de Toulouse – France in the framework of the AUPELF international research programme.

He is now the head of the Laboratory ‘Identification et de Modélisation de l’Environnement NatureL, LIMEN’(Laboratory of Identification and Modeling’ at the Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs, Mohammed V Agdal University.

He has considerable experience with advanced hydrological education for engineering, M.Sc. and PhD levels, beginning in 1982. He has taught several courses in his proper university and others : Hydrology, Hydrogeology, Applied Hydrogeology, Water Resources, Numerical modelling, Numerical Methods in Hydrology, Applied Hydraulics, Flow through Porous Media, Transport through Porous Media, including Seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers and GIS. He has also organised several seminars for public and private companies in the field of water resources and management.

He has also been involved in international seminars and lectures dealing with water (Free university of Brussels, Water Institute of Granada-Spain, Ecole National d’Ingénieurs de Tunis, Center for Water and Desertification, Biskra-Algeria, Water Resources Department, Tripoli-Libya, etc.). He has written several course notes and reports and a technical book is being prepared on groundwater flow and transport modelling in aquifer systems.

In addition, he conducts research on Hydrology, groundwater modelling of flow and pollutant transport in porous media and heterogeneous and complex aquifer systems; with direct applications on hydrogeology and environmental pollution. These include groundwater management for supplying population and irrigation areas. Research aspects include also saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers (Methods of Analysis, Monitoring, Modelling and Management), especially in the Mediterranean region (Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy and Palestine).

Agricultural pollution of groundwater was also investigated is several irrigated areas in Morocco, focussing on nitrate and salt pollution of soils and groundwater due to the excessive use of fertilisers and the water table rise at the national scale. In parallel with these related problems, theoretical and practical developments on fundamental research is also performed with respect to numerical models for 3D complex groundwater flow and solute transport systems (3D variably saturated – unsaturated hydrological systems).

His applied research covers hydrogeological characterisation of groundwater systems at the large scale and their interaction with surface water, modelling and pollutant transfer in soils and groundwater and their impacts on the natural environment. These research works are conducted in the framework of national and international research programmes (consulting and applied research contracts) such as the EU-Brussels, FAO-Rome, UNESCO, bilateral agreements (France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, USA and Tunisia), for which he was appointed head of these projects.

Dr. Larabi has published several papers and he is also author and co-author of several reports, consulting and expertise reports. He has given several scientific presentations in national and international high standard conferences such as ‘International conference on Computational in Water Resources (CMWR, 94-2006), International conference on Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Aquifers (SWICA, 2001-2006), Salt Water Intrusion Meetings (SWIM, 94 - 2006)’, International conference on Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modeling (ModelCare’02 - 05)’  and international seminars (Institut Polytechnique de Toulouse, Université de Bordeaux I, Centre International de Rencontres Mathématiques at Marseille, Université d’Oran, Biskra et d’Alger-Algérie, Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie, Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tunis-Tunisie, Free University of Brussels, Technical University of Delf-Netherlands, Wageningen University and TNO – Netherlands, University of Florida at Gainesville USA, University of Mississippi Oxford USA, University of Gent-Belgium, University of Padova-Italy, Center for Advanced Studies and Research Cagliari-Italy, Water Institute of Granada-Spain, Arab Center for Studies of Arid and Dry Zones, ACSAD-Damascus, UNESCO Cairo Office, UNESCO-IHP Paris, UNESCO Rabat Office, ISESCO Rabat Headquarter, FAO Rabat Office,  etc).

His published works encompasses the following fields : i) solution of non linear groundwater flow equations with coupled processes, constitutive laws of dispersive transport in porous media; ii) Model development, numerical analyses of partial differential equations, code interfaces with some post-graphical processors, iterative methods, numerical and iii) Hydrogeological characterisation, Modelling groundwater flow and pollution in groundwater systems, including seawater intrusion, for different scales and media (humid, arid or semi-arid zones). Examples of groundwater codes that have been used: GEO_PROF, GEO_SWIM, Visual MODFLOW, Processing MODFLOW, MT3D, ASM, SEAWAT, CODESA-3D, SUTRA, BIGFLOW, GMS and ARCVIEW for GIS.

Concerning Field work studies on Hydrogeology and water resources management and strategies in Morocco, several aquifers have been studied in the framework of theses of Engineering (Groundwater section at EMI), theses of MSc or in the preparation of the PhD in Applied Sciences and Engineering, in addition to consulting and research contracts made in the framework of national and international contracts with several organisms, including the Hydraulic department, Ministry of Water (MATEE), the National Office of Potable Water (ONEP), and the regional water basin agencies.

Winning Work


  1. Development of a Sharp interface code for seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers with applications (GEO_SWIM sharp) (3 published papers)
  2. Development of Variable density code for seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers with applications to take into account the dispersive solute transport (GEO_SWIM dense) (3 published papers)
  3. Methodological Approach for the development of Regional Models to deal with Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Aquifer(3 published papers)
  4. Characterization of Seawater Intrusion in Coastal Aquifers for Sustainable Management (4 published papers)
  5. Optimization of Groundwater Models for Management of Coastal Aquifers (2 published papers)

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