Understanding the potential of climate teleconnections to project future groundwater drought

Rust, William; Holman, Ian; Bloomfield, John ORCID:; Cuthbert, Mark; Corstanje, Ron. 2019 Understanding the potential of climate teleconnections to project future groundwater drought. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 23 (8). 3233-3245.

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Predicting the next major drought is of paramount interest to water managers globally. Estimating the onset of groundwater drought is of particular importance, as groundwater resources are often assumed to be more resilient when surface water resources begin to fail. A potential source of long-term forecasting is offered by possible periodic controls on groundwater level via teleconnections with oscillatory ocean–atmosphere systems. However, relationships between large-scale climate systems and regional to local-scale rainfall, evapotranspiration (ET) and groundwater are often complex and non-linear so that the influence of long-term climate cycles on groundwater drought remains poorly understood. Furthermore, it is currently unknown whether the absolute contribution of multi-annual climate variability to total groundwater storage is significant. This study assesses the extent to which multi-annual variability in groundwater can be used to indicate the timing of groundwater droughts in the UK. Continuous wavelet transforms show how repeating teleconnection-driven 7-year and 16–32-year cycles in the majority of groundwater sites from all the UK's major aquifers can systematically control the recurrence of groundwater drought; and we provide evidence that these periodic modes are driven by teleconnections. Wavelet reconstructions demonstrate that multi-annual periodicities of the North Atlantic Oscillation, known to drive North Atlantic meteorology, comprise up to 40 % of the total groundwater storage variability. Furthermore, the majority of UK recorded droughts in recent history coincide with a minimum phase in the 7-year NAO-driven cycles in groundwater level, providing insight into drought occurrences on a multi-annual timescale. Long-range groundwater drought forecasts via climate teleconnections present transformational opportunities to drought prediction and its management across the North Atlantic region.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1607-7938
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater drought, Groundwater resources
Date made live: 19 Aug 2019 13:12 +0 (UTC)

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