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Volume 22, issue 6 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 3143-3154, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Jun 2018

Research article | 06 Jun 2018

Recent trends of groundwater temperatures in Austria

Susanne A. Benz1, Peter Bayer2, Gerfried Winkler3, and Philipp Blum1 Susanne A. Benz et al.
  • 1Institute of Applied Geosciences (AGW), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany
  • 2Institute of new Energy Systems (InES), Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt, 85019, Germany
  • 3Institute of Earth Sciences (IEW), NAWI Graz Geocenter, University of Graz, Graz, 8010, Austria

Abstract. Climate change is one of if not the most pressing challenge modern society faces. Increasing temperatures are observed all over the planet and the impact of climate change on the hydrogeological cycle has long been shown. However, so far we have insufficient knowledge on the influence of atmospheric warming on shallow groundwater temperatures. While some studies analyse the implication climate change has for selected wells, large-scale studies are so far lacking. Here we focus on the combined impact of climate change in the atmosphere and local hydrogeological conditions on groundwater temperatures in 227 wells in Austria, which have in part been observed since 1964. A linear analysis finds a temperature change of +0.7±0.8K in the years from 1994 to 2013. In the same timeframe surface air temperatures in Austria increased by 0.5±0.3K, displaying a much smaller variety. However, most of the extreme changes in groundwater temperatures can be linked to local hydrogeological conditions. Correlation between groundwater temperatures and nearby surface air temperatures was additionally analysed. They vary greatly, with correlation coefficients of −0.3 in central Linz to 0.8 outside of Graz. In contrast, the correlation of nationwide groundwater temperatures and surface air temperatures is high, with a correlation coefficient of 0.83. All of these findings indicate that while atmospheric climate change can be observed in nationwide groundwater temperatures, individual wells are often primarily dominated by local hydrogeological conditions. In addition to the linear temperature trend, a step-wise model was also applied that identifies climate regime shifts, which were observed globally in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Hinting again at the influence of local conditions, at most 22% of all wells show these climate regime shifts. However, we were able to identify an additional shift in 2007, which was observed by 37% of all wells. Overall, the step-wise representation provides a slightly more accurate picture of observed temperatures than the linear trend.

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Short summary
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges modern society faces. Increasing temperatures are observed both above ground and, as discussed here, in the groundwater – the source of most drinking water. Within Austria average temperature increased by 0.7 °C over the past 20 years, with an increase of more than 3 °C in some wells and temperature decrease in others. However, these extreme changes can be linked to local events such as the construction of a new drinking water supply.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges modern society faces. Increasing...