Ground water and climate change

Journal name:
Nature Climate Change
Volume:
3,
Pages:
322–329
Year published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nclimate1744
Received
Accepted
Published online
Corrected online

Abstract

As the world's largest distributed store of fresh water, ground water plays a central part in sustaining ecosystems and enabling human adaptation to climate variability and change. The strategic importance of ground water for global water and food security will probably intensify under climate change as more frequent and intense climate extremes (droughts and floods) increase variability in precipitation, soil moisture and surface water. Here we critically review recent research assessing the impacts of climate on ground water through natural and human-induced processes as well as through groundwater-driven feedbacks on the climate system. Furthermore, we examine the possible opportunities and challenges of using and sustaining groundwater resources in climate adaptation strategies, and highlight the lack of groundwater observations, which, at present, limits our understanding of the dynamic relationship between ground water and climate.

At a glance

Figures

  1. Simplified version of a global groundwater resources map, highlighting the locations of regional aquifers systems.
    Figure 1: Simplified version of a global groundwater resources map9, highlighting the locations of regional aquifers systems.
  2. Conceptual representation of key interactions between ground water and climate.
    Figure 2: Conceptual representation of key interactions between ground water and climate.
  3. Global map of anthropogenic groundwater recharge rates in areas with substantial irrigation by surface water.
    Figure 3: Global map of anthropogenic groundwater recharge rates in areas with substantial irrigation by surface water.

    Rates are estimated from the difference between the return flow of irrigation water to ground water and total groundwater withdrawals for the period 1998 to 20022. Note that in areas with predominantly groundwater-fed irrigation or significant water withdrawals for domestic and industrial purposes, no anthropogenic groundwater recharge occurs; a net abstraction of ground water leads to groundwater depletion in regions with insufficient natural groundwater recharge.

Change history

Corrected online 03 December 2012
In the version of this Review Article originally published online, in Table 1, 'Flux-based method' and 'Volume-based method' should have cited refs 91 and 92, respectively. This error has now been corrected in all versions of the Review Article.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK

    • Richard G. Taylor
  2. Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Texas 78758-4445, USA

    • Bridget Scanlon
  3. Institute of Physical Geography, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt D-60054, Germany

    • Petra Döll
  4. Hydrological Science Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA

    • Matt Rodell
  5. Department of Physical Geography, University of Utrecht, Utrecht 3508 TC, The Netherlands

    • Rens van Beek,
    • Yoshihide Wada &
    • Marc F. P. Bierkens
  6. Géosciences Rennes, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes 35042, France

    • Laurent Longuevergne
  7. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, NCGRT, James Cook University, Cairns QLD 4870, Australia

    • Marc Leblanc
  8. UC Center for Hydrologic Modelling, University of California, Irvine, California 92617, USA

    • James S. Famiglietti
  9. School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK

    • Mike Edmunds
  10. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA

    • Leonard Konikow
  11. Agricultural Systems Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526, USA

    • Timothy R. Green
  12. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China

    • Jianyao Chen
  13. Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto 630-8047, Japan

    • Makoto Taniguchi
  14. British Geological Survey, Edinburgh EH9 3LA, UK

    • Alan MacDonald
  15. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, New Jersey 08901, USA

    • Ying Fan
  16. Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA

    • Reed M. Maxwell
  17. Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem 95501, Israel

    • Yossi Yechieli
  18. Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132, USA

    • Jason J. Gurdak
  19. Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada

    • Diana M. Allen
  20. Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK

    • Mohammad Shamsudduha
  21. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

    • Kevin Hiscock
  22. International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), UNESCO, Tsukuba 153-8505, Japan

    • Pat J.-F. Yeh
  23. Environmental Science and Technology Department, Cranfield University, Milton Keynes MK43 0AL, UK

    • Ian Holman
  24. Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO-IHP, Paris 75732 Cedex 15, France

    • Holger Treidel

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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