Study links climate and ground water availability
January 2, 2012, Raleigh, NC – New research is giving scientists and water resource managers an unprecedented look at how climate and precipitation influence ground water and surface water levels in the southeast United States.
January 2, 2012, Raleigh, NC – New research is giving scientists and
water resource managers an unprecedented look at how climate and
precipitation influence ground water and surface water levels in the
southeast United States.
Researchers at North Carolina State University found that the ground water available in any given month is directly influenced by the amount of precipitation that fell in that watershed three months earlier. For example, ground water levels in April are affected by precipitation that fell in January.
Similarly, streamflow – the amount of water in rivers, streams and other surface waters – is influenced by overall ground water levels over the previous three months combined. So streamflow in April is influenced by ground water levels in January, February and March.
“This is the first time we’ve had this specific understanding of how climate and precipitation influence ground water and streamflow in the southeast,” said Dr. Sankar Arumugam, co-author of a paper describing the study and an associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University. The researchers looked at the southeast region of the United States, stretching from Virginia to Florida and westward to include Alabama.
“Our findings give water resource managers significantly more information they can use to make planning and policy decisions to better prepare for water shortages or drought by developing management plans that account for both streamflow and ground water,” Arumugam said.
The researchers evaluated 20 to 30 years of data from 20 watersheds throughout the southeast, as well as climate data from the El Nino southern oscillation – which denotes hot (El Nino) or cold (La Nina) sea-surface temperature conditions in the tropical Pacific.
The paper, “Role of Climate Variability in Modulating the Surface Water and Groundwater interaction over the Southeast United States,” is available online from the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering. Dr. Naser Almanaseer of Al Balqa Applied University in Jordan co-authored the paper.