Climate change impacts on groundwater and dependent ecosystems

Bjørn Kløve*, Pertti Ala-Aho, Guillaume Bertrand, Jason J. Gurdak, Hans Kupfersberger, Jens Kværner, Timo Muotka, Heikki Mykrä, Elena Preda, Pekka Rossi, Cintia Bertacchi Uvo, Elzie Velasco, Manuel Pulido-Velazquez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

435 Citations (Scopus)


Aquifers and groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) are facing increasing pressure from water consumption, irrigation and climate change. These pressures modify groundwater levels and their temporal patterns and threaten vital ecosystem services such as arable land irrigation and ecosystem water requirements, especially during droughts. This review examines climate change effects on groundwater and dependent ecosystems. The mechanisms affecting natural variability in the global climate and the consequences of climate and land use changes due to anthropogenic influences are summarised based on studies from different hydrogeological strata and climate zones. The impacts on ecosystems are discussed based on current findings on factors influencing the biodiversity and functioning of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The influence of changes to groundwater on GDE biodiversity and future threats posed by climate change is reviewed, using information mainly from surface water studies and knowledge of aquifer and groundwater ecosystems. Several gaps in research are identified. Due to lack of understanding of several key processes, the uncertainty associated with management techniques such as numerical modelling is high. The possibilities and roles of new methodologies such as indicators and modelling methods are discussed in the context of integrated groundwater resources management. Examples are provided of management impacts on groundwater, with recommendations on sustainable management of groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-266
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue numberPart B
Early online date27 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

The preparation of this review was partly funded by EC 7th framework Project GENESIS (Contract Number 226536).


  • Climate
  • Ecosystems
  • Global change
  • Groundwater
  • Land use
  • Management


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