18 Jan 2024, 13:31
Franca Quecke

Climate change will severely affect groundwater levels in Germany — report

Clean Energy Wire

Prolonged drought and more frequent heavy rainfall as a result of climate change will have a significant impact on groundwater levels in central Germany, found a report by the Lower Saxony State Office for Water Management, Coastal and Nature Conservation (NLWKN). The findings indicate that extended dry periods and extreme precipitation will result in longer periods of low groundwater levels in summer and autumn, and higher levels in winter and spring. "Human influences on groundwater levels, such as an increased demand for water withdrawals for drinking water supply or agricultural field irrigation, can further amplify these changes," said Uwe Petry, coordinator of the project. However, these effects have not yet been taken into account in the existing models, he warned.

Over the last two decades, groundwater levels in the region have already been on a clear downward trend, with a spell of particularly dry years since 2018 resulting in the sharpest drops in many areas since records began. Regional environment minister, Christian Meyer, said climate change had turned water into a valuable resource that required careful handling. “In order to counter the effects of climate change, we need sustainable water management that is coordinated between all stakeholders.”

With summer temperatures increasing and groundwater levels decreasing, Lower Saxony and other federal states already took action last year by restricting water use. Germany’s national water strategy and natural climate protection action programme are also designed to advance the country’s adaptation efforts.

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