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The title photo of a glacier overlying a karst aquifer in the Swiss Alps was taken in September 2009. The red number on the polished limestone surface in the foreground indicates the position of the glacier in 2003. Since then, the glacier has lost ca. 182 m in length and 9 m in thickness. If retreat continues at this rate, most of this small glacier will have vanished by approximately 2035 (while most large glaciers will probably shrink but still exist). The spring draining the aquifer supplied by this glacier is used for drinking water supply and irrigation. How will the retreat of this glacier affect the availability and temporal variability of freshwater from the spring? More generally, how, and to what extent, will impacts of the predicted climate change affect water resources from karst aquifers? This question represents one of several "research frontiers and practical challenges in karst hydrogeology" discussed in this special issue, which has been prepared by the Karst Commission of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, IAH (www.iah.org/karst).
Karst aquifer, Groundwater, Drinking water, Contamination problems, Climate change, Soil erosion, Ecohydrology
Goldscheider, Nico and Ravbar, Nataša, "Editorial: Research Frontiers and Practical Challenges in Karst Hydrogeology" (2010). KIP Articles. 81.