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Media opportunity: World's largest stores of unfrozen freshwater projected to warm and affect cold‑water habitats, geothermal energy resources and drinking water quality : Dalhousie University research

Posted by Communications and Marketing on June 4, 2024 in News

Fresh groundwater that supports life and is a vital supply of drinking water for millions of people around the world is projected to warm in the coming decades and adversely affect both humans and aquatic ecosystems, according to new research by Dalhousie University scientists.

Researchers developed and applied the first global-scale, heat transport model to simulate the present-day distribution of groundwater temperatures, as well as their response to future climate change.

Their objective was to reveal the potential magnitude and long-term implications of ongoing shallow groundwater warming and identify ‘hot spots.’

The team, including Barret Kurylyk, Rob Jamieson and Susi Benz of Dalhousie's Department of Civil and Resource Engineering, found that groundwater is conservatively projected to warm on average by 2.1 °C between 2000 and 2100.

Results, outlined in a paper published today, indicate that by 2100, between 77 and 188 million people are projected to live in areas where groundwater will exceed the highest threshold for drinking water temperatures set by any country, which will affect its taste. The warming groundwater will also negatively affect cold-water habitats in rivers around the world as groundwater is known to cool rivers during heat waves and preserve local populations of cold-water fish, such as Atlantic salmon.

Dr. Kurylyk and Dr. Benz are available to discuss the findings and how groundwater, which provides at least part of the water supply for half the world and close to half of the global irrigation demand, is under increasing threat due to warming.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University 
Cell: 1-902-220-0491 


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