The effects of climate change on potential groundwater recharge in Great Britain

M Herrera-Pantoja, KM Hiscock

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Abstract

The predicted increase in mean global temperature due to climate change is expected to affect water availability and, in turn, cause both environmental and societal impacts. To understand the potential impact of climate change on future sustainable water resources, this paper outlines a methodology to quantify the effects of climate change on potential groundwater recharge (or hydrological excess water) for three locations in the north and south of Great Britain. Using results from a stochastic weather generator, actual evapotranspiration and potential groundwater recharge time-series for the historic baseline 1961–1990 and for a future ‘high’ greenhouse gas emissions scenario for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s time periods were simulated for Coltishall in East Anglia, Gatwick in southeast England and Paisley in west Scotland. Under the ‘high’ gas emissions scenario, results showed a decrease of 20% in potential groundwater recharge for Coltishall, 40% for Gatwick and 7% for Paisley by the end of this century. The persistence of dry periods is shown to increase for the three sites during the 2050s and 2080s. Gatwick presents the driest conditions, Coltishall the largest variability of wet and dry periods and Paisley little variability. For Paisley, the main effect of climate change is evident during the dry season (April–September), when the potential amount of hydrological excess water decreases by 88% during the 2080s. Overall, it is concluded that future climate may present a decrease in potential groundwater recharge that will increase stress on local and regional groundwater resources that are already under ecosystem and water supply pressures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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