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Deep groundwater aquifers respond rapidly to climate variability

2/9/2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Changes in climate can rapidly impact even the deepest freshwater aquifers according to Penn State and Columbia University hydrologists.The researchers found that responses to climate variations can be detected in deep groundwater aquifers faster than expected — in many cases within a year.

Because rain water may take years to reach deep aquifers through natural infiltration, the findings suggest another factor is involved, such as pumping of aquifers done by agricultural industries.

"We saw a rapid response in deep groundwater levels to both major climate cycles and local precipitation," said Tess Russo, R.L. Slingerland Early Career Professor of Geosciences at Penn State. "These aquifers are so deep, we expect it takes years for precipitation to make its way down, so if it's not natural recharge causing the response of groundwater to changes in precipitation, then it may be coming from pumping changes."  More

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