Effects of Changing Meteoric Precipitation Patterns on Groundwater Temperature in Karst Environments


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Publication Date

January 2017


Climate predictions indicate that precipitation patterns will change and average air temperatures will increase across much of the planet. These changes will alter surface water and groundwater temperatures which can significantly affect the local and regional environment. Here, we examine the role of precipitation timing in changes to groundwater temperature in carbonate‐karst aquifers using measured groundwater level and temperature data from the Konza Prairie Long‐Term Ecological Research Site, Kansas. We demonstrate that shifts to increased cool‐season precipitation may mitigate the increases in groundwater temperature produced by increases in average annual air temperature. In karst, the solution‐enlarged conduits allow faster and focused recharge, and the recharge‐event temperature can strongly influence the groundwater temperature in the aquifer. Our field data and analysis show that predictions of future groundwater conditions in karst aquifers need to consider changes in precipitation patterns, in addition to changes to average annual air temperature.

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Groundwater, Vol. 55, no. 2 (2017).