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A framework for assessing the potential impact of climate change on groundwater resources in Ireland

IWRA 2020 Online Conference - Addressing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change
THEME 1. Groundwater Natural Resouces Assessment Under Climate Change
Author(s): Philip Schuler, Natalya Hunter Williams, Damien Doherty, Joan Campanyà i Llovet1 , Monika Kabza1 , Owen Naughton4 , Ted McCormack1

Philip Schuler1,2, Natalya Hunter Williams1, Damien Doherty1,3, Joan Campanyà i Llovet1, Monika Kabza1, Owen Naughton4, Ted McCormack1

1. Geological Survey Ireland, Beggars Bush, Haddington Road, Dublin 2; contact: philip.schuler@cdmsmith.com
2. CDM Smith Ireland Ltd, 15 Wentworth, Eblana Villas, Dublin 2
3. Tobin Consulting Engineers, Block 10 4, Blanchardstown Corporate Park, Dublin 15
4. Institute of Technology Carlow, Kilkenny Road, Carlow

Keyword(s): impact assessment, aquifers, climate change


Climate change is anticipated to impact groundwater resources across multiple geographical and temporal scales, intersecting locally with – amongst others - dynamics related to surface hydrology, ecology, vegetation, urbanization and the sea. To the knowledge of the authors, there appears to be little evidence that climate change is considered in the design of (sub-/national) groundwater monitoring networks internationally. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to provide an objective framework for climate change-related groundwater monitoring, with a focus on incorporating hydrogeological processes into a national groundwater monitoring strategy.
The framework considers hydrogeology and consists of matrices and national maps that link anticipated climate dynamics with their potential impacts, considering subsurface hydrogeology. Impacts include sea water intrusion, groundwater flooding, groundwater drought, for example, assessed per time scale (event, seasonal, ≥annuality).

The generated “impact maps” portray the potential impacts as the result of the combination of aquifer exposure (E) and aquifer sensitivity (S) to the given climate processes. E and S were quantified within a Delphi-type approach using experts’ independent judgement, where E and S are specified per time scale climate signal and with regards to distinct aquifer types. The aquifer types distinguish between consolidated/unconsolidated geology and the dominating groundwater flow regime. Ultimately, an index describes the relative magnitude of potential impacts related to a given climate change input.

The maps (approx. 1:100,000) and their underlying matrices are considered a crucial product towards integrating the complexity of climate change into systematic national groundwater monitoring. Furthermore, the map and matrix are likely to serve a wider spectrum of stakeholders, including decision makers that want to incorporate groundwater dynamics into the context of their work.

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