Impact of Climate Change on Groundwater Resources

Impact of Climate Change on Groundwater Resources

C. P. Kumar (National Institute of Hydrology, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0803-8.ch052
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Abstract

Climate change poses uncertainties to the supply and management of water resources. While climate change affects surface water resources directly through changes in the major long-term climate variables such as air temperature, precipitation, and evapotranspiration, the relationship between the changing climate variables and groundwater is more complicated and poorly understood. The greater variability in rainfall could mean more frequent and prolonged periods of high or low groundwater levels, and saline intrusion in coastal aquifers due to sea level rise and resource reduction. This chapter presents the likely impact of climate change on groundwater resources and methodology to assess the impact of climate change on groundwater resources.
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Background

Changes in regional temperature and precipitation have important implications for all aspects of the hydrologic cycle. Variations in these parameters determine the amount of water that reaches the surface, evaporates or transpires back to the atmosphere, becomes stored as snow or ice, infiltrates into the groundwater system, runs off the land, and ultimately becomes base flow to streams and rivers.

Temperature increases affect the hydrologic cycle by directly increasing evaporation of available surface water and vegetation transpiration. Consequently, these changes can influence precipitation amounts, timings and intensity rates, and indirectly impact the flux and storage of water in surface and subsurface reservoirs (i.e., lakes, soil moisture, groundwater). In addition, there may be other associated impacts, such as sea water intrusion, water quality deterioration, potable water shortage, etc.

Many rivers and streams that are fed by glacier runoff could be significantly impacted as a result of climate change. As glacier retreat accelerates, increased summer runoff could occur. However, when the glaciers have largely melted, the late summer and fall glacial input into streams and rivers may be lost, resulting in a significant reduction in flow in some cases.

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