Projecting impacts of climate change on hydrological conditions and biotic responses in a chalk valley riparian wetland

House, A.R.; Thompson, J.R.; Acreman, M.C.. 2016 Projecting impacts of climate change on hydrological conditions and biotic responses in a chalk valley riparian wetland. Journal of Hydrology, 534. 178-192.

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Projected changes in climate are likely to substantially impact wetland hydrological conditions that will in turn have implications for wetland ecology. Assessing ecohydrological impacts of climate change requires models that can accurately simulate water levels at the fine-scale resolution to which species and communities respond. Hydrological conditions within the Lambourn Observatory at Boxford, Berkshire, UK were simulated using the physically based, distributed model MIKE SHE, calibrated to contemporary surface and groundwater levels. The site is a 10 ha lowland riparian wetland where complex geological conditions and channel management exert strong influences on the hydrological regime. Projected changes in precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, channel discharge and groundwater level were derived from the UK Climate Projections 2009 ensemble of climate models for the 2080s under different scenarios. Hydrological impacts of climate change differ through the wetland over short distances depending on the degree of groundwater/surface-water interaction. Discrete areas of groundwater upwelling are associated with an exaggerated response of water levels to climate change compared to non-upwelling areas. These are coincident with regions where a weathered chalk layer, which otherwise separates two main aquifers, is absent. Simulated water levels were linked to requirements of the MG8 plant community and Desmoulin’s whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana) for which the site is designated. Impacts on each are shown to differ spatially and in line with hydrological impacts. Differences in water level requirements for this vegetation community and single species highlight the need for separate management strategies in distinct areas of the wetland.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 0022-1694
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: wetlands, climate change, ecohydrology, hydrological/hydraulic modelling
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 14 Jan 2016 13:50 +0 (UTC)

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