Changes in global groundwater organic carbon driven by climate change and urbanization

Climate change and urbanization can increase pressures on groundwater resources, but little is known about how groundwater quality will change. Here, we use a global synthesis (n = 9,404) to reveal the drivers of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), which is an important component of water chemistry and substrate for microorganisms that control biogeochemical reactions. Dissolved inorganic chemistry, local climate and land use explained ~ 31% of observed variability in groundwater DOC, whilst aquifer age explained an additional 16%. We identify a 19% increase in DOC associated with urban land cover. We predict major groundwater DOC increases following changes in precipitation and temperature in key areas relying on groundwater. Climate change and conversion of natural or agricultural areas to urban areas will decrease groundwater quality and increase water treatment costs, compounding existing constraints on groundwater resources.

McDonough L. K., Santos I. R., Andersen M. S., O’Carroll D. M., Rutlidge H., Meredith K., Oudone P., Bridgeman J., Gooddy D. C., Sorensen J. P. R., Lapworth D. J., MacDonald A. M., Ward J. & Baker A.
Year of Publication
Coverage of Study
Origin of Pullution
Type of Resource
Research Article