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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-22
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-22
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  31 Jan 2020

31 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal HESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Asymmetric impact of groundwater use on groundwater droughts

Doris E. Wendt1, Anne F. Van Loon1, John P. Bloomfield2, and David M. Hannah1 Doris E. Wendt et al.
  • 1University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • 2British Geological Survey, Wallingford, UK

Abstract. Groundwater use affects groundwater storage continuously, as the removal of water changes both short-term and long-term variation in groundwater level. This has implications for groundwater droughts, i.e. a below-normal groundwater level. The impact of groundwater use on groundwater droughts remains unknown. Hence, the aim of this study is to investigate the impact of groundwater use on groundwater droughts adopting a methodological framework that consists of two approaches. The first approach compares groundwater monitoring sites that are potentially influenced by abstraction to uninfluenced sites. Observed groundwater droughts are compared in terms of drought occurrence, magnitude, and duration. The second approach consists of a groundwater trend test that investigates the impact of groundwater use on long-term groundwater level variation. This framework was applied to a case study of the UK. Four regional water management units in the UK were used, in which groundwater is monitored and abstractions are licensed. The potential influence of groundwater use was identified on the basis of relatively poor correlations between accumulated standardised precipitation and standardised groundwater level time series over a 30-year period from 1984 to 2014. Results of the first approach show two main patterns in groundwater drought characteristics. The first pattern shows an increase of shorter drought events, mostly during heatwaves or prior to a long drought event for influenced sites compared to uninfluenced sites. This pattern is found in three water management units where the long-term water balance is generally positive and annual average groundwater abstractions are smaller than recharge. The second pattern is found in one water management unit where temporarily groundwater abstractions exceeded recharge. In this case, groundwater droughts are lengthened and intensified in influenced sites. Results of the second approach show that nearly half of the groundwater time series have a significant trend, whilst trends in precipitation and potential evapotranspiration time series are negligible. Detected significant trends are both positive en negative, although positive trends dominate in most water management units. These positive trends, indicating rising groundwater levels, align with changes in water use regulation. This suggests that groundwater abstractions have reduced during the period of investigation. Further research is required to assess the impact of this change in groundwater abstractions on drought characteristics. The overall impact of groundwater use is summarised in a conceptual typology that illustrates the asymmetric impact of groundwater use on groundwater drought occurrence, duration, and magnitude. The long-term balance between groundwater abstraction and recharge appears to be influencing this asymmetric impact, which highlights the relation between long-term and short-term sustainable groundwater use.

Doris E. Wendt et al.

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Doris E. Wendt et al.

Doris E. Wendt et al.

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Short summary
Groundwater use changes the availability of water, which can be beneficial to sustain water supply for human water use, especially during droughts. This study investigates the impact of groundwater use on groundwater droughts. A methodological framework was developed and applied to the UK. We identified an asymmetric impact of groundwater use on droughts, which shows the relation between short-term and long-term strategies for sustainable groundwater use.
Groundwater use changes the availability of water, which can be beneficial to sustain water...
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