Groundwater fate and climate change

Jan 28, 2013

(Phys.org)—Simon Fraser University earth scientist Diana Allen, a co-author on a new paper about climate changes' impacts on the world's ground water, says climate change may be exacerbating many countries' experience of water stress.

"Increasing food requirements to feed our current world's growing population and prolonged droughts in many regions of the world are already increasing dependence on groundwater for agriculture," says Allen. "-related stresses on fresh surface water, such as glacier-fed rivers, will likely exacerbate that situation.

"Add to that our mismanagement and inadequate monitoring of groundwater usage and we may see significant groundwater depletion and contamination that will seriously compromise much of the world's agriculturally-grown food supply."

In "Ground Water and Climate Change," Allen and several other explain how several human-driven factors, if not rectified, will combine with climate change to significantly reduce useable groundwater availability for agriculture globally.

The paper was published in late 2012 in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The authors note that inadequate groundwater supply records and mathematical models for predicting climate change and associated sea-level-rise make it impossible to forecast groundwater's long-range fate globally.

"Over-pumping of groundwater for irrigation is mining dry the world's ancient Pleistocene-age, ice-sheet-fed aquifers and, ironically, at the same time increasing , which we haven't factored into current estimations of the rise," says Allen. "Groundwater pumping reduces the amount of stored water deep underground and redirects it to the more active hydrologic system at the land-surface. There, it evaporates into the atmosphere, and ultimately falls as precipitation into the ocean."

Current research estimates oceans will rise by about a metre globally by the end of the century due to climate change. But that estimation doesn't factor in another half-a-centimetre-a-year rise, says this study, expected due to groundwater recycling back into the ocean globally.

Increasing climate-change-induced storm surges will also flood coastal areas, threatening the quality of groundwater supplies and compromising their usability.

This is the second study that Allen and her colleagues have produced to assist the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in assessing the impact of climate change on the world's supply.

The IPCC, established by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988, periodically reviews the latest research on climate change and assesses its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

This study is one of several guiding the IPCC's formulation of upcoming reports, the first being about the physical science behind climate change, due Sept. 2013.

Explore further: How to avoid water wars between 'fracking' industry and residents

More information: www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1744.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

NASA image: Fires in the Primorsky Province of Russia

1 hour ago

One of the most influential ecological disturbances is fire. Fire can spread so rapidly and for such far distances that its impact on land is for the most part far greater than any other factor. Less than ...

On global warming, settled science and George Brandis

2 hours ago

The Australian Attorney General, Senator George Brandis is no stranger to controversy. His statement in parliament that "people do have a right to be bigots" rapidly gained him notoriety, and it isn't hard to understand why ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mememine69
1.3 / 5 (12) Jan 28, 2013
Reefer Madness!

Climate change believers and their condemning of our children to their greenhouse gas ovens of their climate change hell on earth should legally be held accountable for their war crime of 27 years of needless CO2 panic.

Shootist
1.6 / 5 (14) Jan 28, 2013
Simon Fraser University earth scientist Diana Allen, a co-author on a new paper about climate changes' impacts on the world's ground water, says climate change may be exacerbating many countries' experience of water stress.


I call continued Climate Bullshyt. Stop tying to scare and confuse the (democrat voter) 50% of the population whose intelligence is below average.

Any change since 1850 is minute. So minute it is still too cold to grow vine grapes in Scotland. Or have dairy farms in Greenland.

The current climate is better than 18 and froze to death, in any event. People aren't freezing to death as often and the are fewer crop failures in the Northern Hemisphere.
Jimee
5 / 5 (8) Jan 28, 2013
How shameful! To call attention to our wasteful water use and try to save people's lives by attempting to suggest better policies.
Howhot
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2013
I see we have a couple of hockey stick deniers that need to be rounded up and sent to the Al-Gore *re-education* camps.
Enviro Equipment Blog
1 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2013
Properly managing existing groundwater sources shouldn't be linked to global warming because it's a separate issue altogether. But even if it is the same issue, perhaps someone could enlighten me as to the following question; if our planet is getting warmer, wouldn't that increase the amount of water in the atmosphere (and thus increase rainfall amounts) due to increased evaporation?
VendicarE
5 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2013
Humidity levels are observed to be increasing globally.

Rates of precipitation are observed to be decreasing globally.

That is all the answer you need.

"if our planet is getting warmer, wouldn't that increase the amount of water in the atmosphere (and thus increase rainfall amounts) due to increased evaporation?" - Enviro_Equipment
VendicarE
5 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2013
Yawn. ShooTard needs to get a better Comedy Routine.

"I call continued Climate Bullshyt." - ShooTard

"Any change since 1850 is minute. So minute it is still too cold to grow vine grapes in Scotland. Or have dairy farms in Greenland." - ScooTard

It has always been too cold to have dairy farms in Greenland. But that won't be the case in 50 years.

As to Grapes, Vinyards are found across England.

I note that your earlier lies that there are none have now been replaced with claims about a lack of vineyards further North.

Much like plant and animal life, your dishonesty is creeping northward as the planet warms.

More news stories

Climate change likely to make Everest even riskier

Climbing to the roof of the world is becoming less predictable and possibly more dangerous, scientists say, as climate change brings warmer temperatures that may eat through the ice and snow on Mount Everest.

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

High-calorie and low-nutrient foods in kids' TV

Fruits and vegetables are often displayed in the popular Swedish children's TV show Bolibompa, but there are also plenty of high-sugar foods. A new study from the University of Gothenburg explores how food is portrayed in ...