More than two billion people on the planet depend upon the largest underground store of water known as the groundwater. According to a study published in the Nature, researchers believe that the groundwater flow patterns are not catching up with climate change and could act as a ticking time bomb.
Groundwater maintains its levels through recharges and discharges. The recharges are primarily done by rainwater while discharges occurs in the form of streams and lakes. Also, the groundwater flow systems exist in balance with the climate change, connecting zones of recharge and discharge with multiple feedbacks.
Groundwater Conversion (Source: WWSS)
Climate variations change the available quantity of groundwater, maintaining water recharges and discharges. Researchers believe that this process in not working properly and as a result, groundwater is taking a lot longer to respond to climate change.
Mark Cuthbert, lead author, says that only half of the world’s groundwater flows are responding fully within human timescales of a 100 years and changes in groundwater flows could have a very long legacy.
By using hydrologic datasets, Researchers were able to reveal that groundwater in wet and humid areas will start experiencing problems much before semi-arid and arid areas. Thus, making it critical for strategies shifting to groundwater from surfacewater to keep groundwater hydrology in mind.
Furthermore, this is like an environmental time bomb and recharge impacts now will affect rivers and wetlands a long time later, said Cuthbert.