17 January 2020
Groundwater drought and abstraction in Europe: sustainability now and in the future? Conference given by Anne Van Loon
In this study, we present the results of the analysis of groundwater droughts induced and modified by groundwater abstractioncompared to a near-natural baseline. We show that abstraction can lower groundwaterlevels to below drought thresholds in summers with high demand (during heatwaves), but these human-induced droughts are quickly alleviated in our wet NW European climate. However, under climate change and increased water demand scenarios, we might want toadopt a revised abstraction plan to prevent these human-induced groundwater droughts, in order to minimise longer-term impacts on groundwater storage and alleviate potential delays in drought recovery.With a conceptual model, we test under which conditions additional abstractions push the groundwater system into longer drought and how a short-term sustainable abstraction plan can prevent this. In the context of the European Groundwater Drought Initiative (GDI), we compare different climates and groundwater use and management scenarios in Europe. We conclude that for safeguarding Europe’s drinking water supply (c 65% from groundwater), management strategies need to consider short-term sustainability of groundwater abstraction to ensure future water availability.
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