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Rapid groundwater decline and some cases of recovery in aquifers globally

Jasechko, Scott; Seybold, Hansjörg; Perrone, Debra; Fan, Ying; Shamsudduha, Mohammad; Taylor, Richard G; Fallatah, Othman; (2024) Rapid groundwater decline and some cases of recovery in aquifers globally. Nature , 625 pp. 715-721. 10.1038/s41586-023-06879-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Groundwater resources are vital to ecosystems and livelihoods. Excessive groundwater withdrawals can cause groundwater levels to decline1–10, resulting in seawater intrusion11, land subsidence12,13, streamflow depletion14–16 and wells running dry17. However, the global pace and prevalence of local groundwater declines are poorly constrained, because in situ groundwater levels have not been synthesized at the global scale. Here we analyse in situ groundwater-level trends for 170,000 monitoring wells and 1,693 aquifer systems in countries that encompass approximately 75% of global groundwater withdrawals18. We show that rapid groundwater-level declines (>0.5 m year−1) are widespread in the twenty-first century, especially in dry regions with extensive croplands. Critically, we also show that groundwater-level declines have accelerated over the past four decades in 30% of the world’s regional aquifers. This widespread acceleration in groundwater-level deepening highlights an urgent need for more effective measures to address groundwater depletion. Our analysis also reveals specific cases in which depletion trends have reversed following policy changes, managed aquifer recharge and surface-water diversions, demonstrating the potential for depleted aquifer systems to recover.

Type: Article
Title: Rapid groundwater decline and some cases of recovery in aquifers globally
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06879-8
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06879-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186177
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