Research highlight

Groundwater levels determine land response to climate

Nature Geoscience

September 29, 2008

Groundwater depth determines the relative susceptibility of land regions to changes in temperature and precipitation, finds a modelling study published online in Nature Geoscience. According to the simulations, groundwater levels critically control groundwater recharge and drought in a changing climate.

Reed Maxwell and Stefan Kollet used a groundwater flow model with integrated overland flow to examine the interplay between water and energy flows in a changing climate. They compared three scenario simulations with modified climate with a present-day simulation for a case study of the southern Great Plains, USA, an important agricultural region that is susceptible to drought.

Changes in groundwater level result mainly from lateral water flow at the surface and subsurface, and have not fully been taken into account in earlier models.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo315

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