Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change goes underground

24.08.2007
Scientists are hoping early research showing groundwater impacts will help underground climate change surface as a full-fledged part of the global system

Climate change, a recent “hot topic” when studying the atmosphere, oceans, and Earth’s surface; however, the study of another important factor to this global phenomenon is still very much “underground.” Few scientists are looking deep enough to see the possible effects of climate change on groundwater systems. Little is known about how soil, subsurface waters, and groundwater are responding to climate change.

Scientists with CSIRO Australia and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have addressed the vital need for the prediction of climate change impacts on water below the ground. They report that the only way to make such predictions is with simulated interactions between soils and plants that are essential in determining sensitivities of soil-water-vegetation systems to climate change. In their recent research, they generated daily weather patterns that match historical records and predicted climates with double the carbon dioxide using a General Circulation Model (GCM) of the atmosphere. The daily weather that resulted was entered into a soil-water-vegetation model that represented soil absorbed water, water flow, and storage in soil, surface evaporation, plant uptake, transpiration of water, and deep drainage below the roots of trees and grasses that becomes groundwater recharge.

Results of this research are published in the August 2007 Vadose Zone Journal in a special section titled, “Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change.” The eight-articles in this special section are available as open-access for a limited time. This special section was edited by Timothy Green (USDA-ARS), Makoto Taniguchi (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan), and Henk Kooi (Vrije University, The Netherlands) includes studies of several locations around the world, including regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, Micronesia, North America, and Europe.

The simulation models showed that changes in the temperatures and rainfall affected growth rates and leaf size of plants which impacts groundwater recharge. In some areas, the vegetation response to climate change would cause the average recharge to decrease, but in other areas, recharge to groundwater would more than double.

According to the authors, the outcome of this research is vital to land and water management agencies and policy makers all over the world. When the likely scenario of the Earth’s atmosphere doubling its concentration of carbon dioxide becomes a reality, this study indicates that groundwater recharge may increase dramatically in some areas as the changes in rainfall are amplified by the soil-water-plant systems that control groundwater recharge. Regardless of whether such a response is viewed as a benefit or liability, the potential magnitude of change presents strong motivation to gain knowledge of these systems and improve our predictions and responses.

In many countries, the groundwater reservoirs contribute a large part of the total water supply. It is especially true for Denmark, where 99% of the water supply depends on groundwater. This is why Scientists at the University of Copenhagen and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) investigated the effects of future climate change on groundwater recharge, storage, and discharge to streams for two geologically and climatologically different regions in Denmark in a study funded by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. These results are also published in the special section of Vadose Zone Journal.

The climate data used in this study was gathered from regional climate simulations for two scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the period of 2071-2100. Average annual precipitation, temperature, and loss of water in the soil increased, but clear seasonal variations occurred. A model was used to simulate the altered water system that resulted from changes in weather conditions. As most groundwater systems react slowly to changes that occur on the earth’s surface, the main focus of this study was the average monthly values for a 15-year period.

The magnitude of the water response to the simulated climate change was highly dependant on the geological setting. In the study area characterized by sandy top soils and large, interconnected aquifers, the groundwater levels rose significantly. For the other study, with low-permeable top soils and thick clay layers, the groundwater levels only showed minor changes. The primary effect in this area was the change in river discharge with up to 50% increase in winter and 50% decrease in summer. Research is ongoing at the University of Copenhagen and GEUS to investigate other combined impacts of changes in climate, land use, irrigation demand, and sea-level on water resources.

According to the guest editors, resource management and government policies will need to be assessed based on both surface and underground climate impacts altered by human activity. According to Timothy Green, one of the guest editors, the simulations in these studies help to explain the complex interactions between climate on plants and soils. For full adaptation as part of the Earth’s water security discussions, he recommends that underground climate change needs to surface as a full-fledged part of the global system.

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.soils.org
http://www.agronomy.org
http://vzj.scijournals.org/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate change weakens Walker circulation
20.10.2017 | MARUM - Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften an der Universität Bremen

nachricht Shallow soils promote savannas in South America
20.10.2017 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>