SOURCE: Cardiff University and

DATE: January 21, 2019

SNIP: Future generations could be faced with an environmental ‘time bomb’ if climate change is to have a significant effect on the world’s essential groundwater reserves.

When there is a change in recharge due to a lack of rainfall, for example, levels of groundwater drop until balance is restored.

Lead author of the research, Dr Mark Cuthbert, from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Water Research Institute, said: “Our research shows that groundwater systems take a lot longer to respond to climate change than surface water, with only half of the world’s groundwater flows responding fully within ‘human’ timescales of 100 years.

“This means that in many parts of the world, changes in groundwater flows due to climate change could have a very long legacy. This could be described as an environmental time bomb because any climate change impacts on recharge occurring now, will only fully impact the baseflow to rivers and wetlands a long time later.”

“It is essential that the potential for these initially hidden impacts is recognized when developing water management policies, or climate change adaptation strategies for future generations,” Cuthbert said.