Magazine article Geographical

Ground Control: An Examination of Groundwater Levels in Nine African Countries Has Raised Hopes for a More Resilient Future

Magazine article Geographical

Ground Control: An Examination of Groundwater Levels in Nine African Countries Has Raised Hopes for a More Resilient Future

Article excerpt

Humans take the water we need, be it for drinking or irrigation, from one of two sources: surface water, contained in lakes, rivers and reservoirs; and groundwater, in which water flows through porous rocks beneath the ground. In the UK, how much we rely on the latter depends on where we live and the type of rock which makes up the land (not at all in Scotland; quite a bit in London, where groundwater is rising in parts). But in much of sub-Saharan Africa, groundwater is a vital resource. It is often the only source of clean drinking water in rural areas and its use is also increasing in cities. Working out how groundwater levels will react to climate change is therefore vital.

A group of 32 researchers, led by UCL and Cardiff University, sought to test this across nine countries in Africa, including Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa. The research involved analysing long-term records of groundwater levels and rainfall and, in a rare moment of good news, demonstrated that groundwater levels may be more resilient to climate change than previously thought, particularly in the driest areas.

The key reason is that in dry areas most groundwater recharge takes place when water leaks out of temporary streams and ponds - a process which only happens after heavy rainfall. Climate change is expected to lead to fewer rainfall events in the region, but their intensity will increase. This in turn will increase leakage. As a result, the researchers predict that groundwater levels will remain resilient, even if the overall volume of rain decreases. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.