Climate change and its effect on groundwater quality

These groundwater deposits can be stationary or in motion depending on the permeability and position of the soil layers and the geometric conformation of the impermeable layers bordering the aquifer itself

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Climate change and its effect on groundwater quality

The meteoric waters that fall on the earth's surface partly return to the atmosphere as a result of evaporation, partly feed the surface water and partly through the fractures and porosities of the surface permeable rock formations they are able to penetrate the soil.

A part of this goes to reconstruct the holding water which has been reduced as a result of evapo-transpiration, the remainder percolates in depth until it meets an impermeable formation (eg clayey or compact rock formation) which stops its percolation movement.

As the water settles and saturates the voids contained in the permeable formation, forming areas of saturated soil called reservoir rocks or aquifers. These groundwater deposits can be stationary or in motion depending on the permeability and position of the soil layers and the geometric conformation of the impermeable layers bordering the aquifer itself.

The study Climate change and its effect on groundwater quality, published on the Environmental geochemistry and health, explained: "Knowing water quality at larger scales and related ground and surface water interactions impacted by land use and climate is essential to our future protection and restoration investments.

Population growth has driven humankind into the Anthropocene where continuous water quality degradation is a global phenomenon as shown by extensive recalcitrant chemical contamination, increased eutrophication, hazardous algal blooms, and faecal contamination connected with microbial hazards antibiotic resistance.

In this framework, climate change and related extreme events indeed exacerbate the negative trend in water quality. Notwithstanding the increasing concern in climate change and water security, research linking climate change and groundwater quality remain early.

Additional research is required to improve our knowledge of climate and groundwater interactions a nd integrated groundwater management. Long-term monitoring of groundwater, surface water, vegetation, and land-use patterns must be supported and fortified to quantify baseline properties.

Concerning the ways climate change affects water quality, limited literature data are available. This study investigates the link between climate change and groundwater quality aquifers by examining case studies of regional carbonate aquifers located in Central Italy.

This study also highlights the need for strategic groundwater management policy and planning to decrease groundwater quality due to aquifer resource shortages and climate change factors. In this scenario, the role of the Society of Environmental Geochemistry is to work together within and across geochemical environments linked with the health of plants, animals, and humans to respond to multiple challenges and opportunities made by global warming."