The research site in the Netherlands is focused on the current and future water scarcity of a sandy recharge area, the Veluwe (1.250 km²). Water abstraction for drinking purposes (80-100 Mm3/y, enough to provide ca. 2 million people with water) and industrial purposes (25-30 Mm3/y) competes with water used by agriculture and nature.
The area experienced extremely dry summers in 1976, 2003 and 2010. These events led to a ban on overhead irrigation, a deterioration of surface water quality, as well as a lack of sufficient quality water for humans, nature and agriculture. Nature areas that depend on upward seepage and that often harbour many red list species suffer from brooks running dry and groundwater levels that are too low.
Climate scenarios indicate that drought events will increase in both frequency and severity, thus amplifying water scarcity problems of the area. Crops and natural vegetation will be exposed to less rainwater during the growing season, combined with an increased atmospheric evapotranspiration demand. This process triggers natural vegetation to become more drought resistant, e.g. by the formation of bare soil and the replacement of rooting species by non-rooting species (mosses and lichens). This feedback is not accounted for current hydrological models.
The new water losses to the atmosphere assessed through this study are a very relevant input to reliable modelling of the water cycle under climate change. The improved modelling of groundwater recharge will be used for hydrological modelling in a climate versatile manner, allowing the assessment of the effects of climate change on water availability. Tailored made adaptation measures will then be established.
BINGO Partners from the Netherlands:
KWR, Vitens, Gelderland. Meet the Partners here.