Assessing future climate change impacts on groundwater recharge in Minnesota

Harsh Anurag, G. H.Crystal Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although the northern Laurentian Great Lakes region is projected to undergo major climate changes, it has had a paucity of future groundwater recharge studies. We used the state of Minnesota (USA) as a testbed to understand how recharge will respond to changing climate in upper mid-latitude, low-elevation temperate settings. Not only can this inform water resource management, but it can help probe difficult-to-predict sign changes in recharge in temperate zones, as well as the under-studied land-surface processes controlling them. Our study implemented the Community Land Model with ensemble outputs from five climate models under two emissions scenarios (RCP8.5 and RCP4.5) to investigate future changes in recharge for 2026–2055 relative to the baseline historical period of 1976–2005. We found that despite quite consistent projections of higher precipitation (P) and some local occurrences of increased recharge, state-average recharge will mostly decline or remain about the same due to warming-induced evapotranspiration (ET) increases. However, our simulations showed that several processes serve to buffer recharge decreases. In drier ecoregions in the west, soil moisture limitations start to constrain evapotranspiration, thus curbing reductions in recharge. These regions also include higher historical surface runoff due to its runoff-prone soils, and because much of future reductions in net atmospheric inputs (P-ET) are partitioned to lower this runoff instead of recharge, decreases in recharge are further modulated. Statewide warming also lessens frozen ground coverage, reapportioning early spring runoff of snowmelt to infiltration and recharge. Our results demonstrate that in addition to precipitation change and warming, moisture feedbacks on ET and the influence of hydrogeological properties and frozen ground dynamics on runoff must be considered when quantifying climate change impacts on recharge in temperate zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128112
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume612
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The dataset MACAv2-METDATA was produced with funding from the Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH) project and the SouthEast Climate Science Center (SECSC). We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modeling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. The authors also acknowledge the high-performance computing support from Cheyenne (doi:10.5065/D6RX99HX) provided by NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota (http://www.msi.umn.edu).

Funding Information:
Funding: Funding for this work came from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), M.L. 2016, Chp. 186, Section 2, Subd. 03f) and from the National Science Foundation (EAR-1724781).

Funding Information:
The dataset MACAv2-METDATA was produced with funding from the Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH) project and the SouthEast Climate Science Center (SECSC). We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme's Working Group on Coupled Modeling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the U.S. Department of Energy's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. The authors also acknowledge the high-performance computing support from Cheyenne (doi:10.5065/D6RX99HX) provided by NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota (http://www.msi.umn.edu).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Hydrologic modeling
  • Runoff

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