IMC Colloquium Series: "The Risky Business of Modeling Impacts of Climate Change on Groundwater Systems"

Friday, September 24, 2010
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Diana M. Allen
Department of Earth Sciences, SFU


Groundwater constitutes the main potable water supply source for human consumption and irrigation of agriculture worldwide. Groundwater also sustains streams, lakes and wetlands during baseflow periods and supports aquatic habitat. Climate change is anticipated to result in impacts on hydrological systems, including groundwater systems; however, determining the range of possible impacts can be quite challenging. In this presentation, basic hydrogeological concepts are introduced to provide context for understanding the complex dynamics of groundwater systems in mountain regions. For climate change impacts assessment, the challenges arising from downscaling, recharge modeling, groundwater-surface water interactions, and global climate model uncertainty, along with the associated risks for groundwater management, are discussed using examples from two case study areas in British Columbia. Some thoughts on risk assessment approaches are offered as a means to manage groundwater given the degree of uncertainty in climate change predictions.