Divergent effects of climate change on future groundwater availability in key mid-latitude aquifers

Wen Ying Wu, Min Hui Lo, Yoshihide Wada, James S. Famiglietti, John T. Reager, Pat J.F. Yeh, Agnès Ducharne, Zong Liang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations

Abstract

Groundwater provides critical freshwater supply, particularly in dry regions where surface water availability is limited. Climate change impacts on GWS (groundwater storage) could affect the sustainability of freshwater resources. Here, we used a fully-coupled climate model to investigate GWS changes over seven critical aquifers identified as significantly distressed by satellite observations. We assessed the potential climate-driven impacts on GWS changes throughout the 21st century under the business-as-usual scenario (RCP8.5). Results show that the climate-driven impacts on GWS changes do not necessarily reflect the long-term trend in precipitation; instead, the trend may result from enhancement of evapotranspiration, and reduction in snowmelt, which collectively lead to divergent responses of GWS changes across different aquifers. Finally, we compare the climate-driven and anthropogenic pumping impacts. The reduction in GWS is mainly due to the combined impacts of over-pumping and climate effects; however, the contribution of pumping could easily far exceed the natural replenishment.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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