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Investigating the respective impacts of groundwater exploitation and climate change on wetland extension over 150 years

Abstract : Peatlands are complex ecosystems driven by many physical, chemical, and biological processes. Peat soils have a significant impact on water quality, ecosystem productivity and greenhouse gas emissions. However, the extent of peatlands is decreasing across the world, mainly because of anthropogenic activities such as drainage for agriculture or groundwater abstractions in underlying aquifers. Potential changes in precipitation and temperature in the future are likely to apply additional pressure to wetland. In this context, a methodology for assessing and comparing the respective impacts of groundwater abstraction and climate change on a groundwater-fed wetland (135 km2) located in Northwest France, is presented. A groundwater model was developed, using flexible boundary conditions to represent surface-subsurface interactions which allowed examination of the extent of the wetland areas. This variable parameter is highly important for land management and is usually not considered in impact studies. The model was coupled with recharge estimation, groundwater abstraction scenarios, and climate change scenarios downscaled from 14 GCMs corresponding to the A1B greenhouse gas (GHG) scenario over the periods 1961-2000 and 2081-2100. Results show that climate change is expected to have an important impact and reduce the surface of wetlands by 5.3-13.6%. In comparison, the impact of groundwater abstraction (100% increase in the expected scenarios) would lead to a maximum decrease of 3.7%. Results also show that the impacts of climate change and groundwater abstraction could be partially mitigated by decreasing or stopping land drainage in specific parts of the area. Water management will require an appropriate compromise which encompasses ecosystem preservation, economic and public domain activities.
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Antoine Armandine Les Landes, Luc Aquilina, Jo de Ridder, Laurent Longuevergne, Christian Pagé, et al.. Investigating the respective impacts of groundwater exploitation and climate change on wetland extension over 150 years. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2014, 509, pp.367-378. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.11.039⟩. ⟨insu-00920690⟩

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