Groundwater reserves starting to dry in the heat

Water shortages are impacting wildlife, agriculture and energy supply – a study has found

Net Hero Podcast

Groundwater reserves across Europe are starting to dry up.

That’s according to scientists who warn that since severe water shortages four years ago, groundwater levels have not shown a rise, remaining “constantly low.”

Published in the Geophysical Research Letters, the study claims that natural habitats and agriculture have been heavily affected by the water shortage – which was exacerbated by the extreme heatwave last summer.

The researchers have also revealed that this groundwater shortage had a contribution towards energy shortages – with less cooling water, nuclear power plants were unable to generate electricity in parts of the continent.

Hydroelectric power plants suffered a similar fate.

Satellite imagery was used to determine the impacts of drought over a prolonged period of time.

Explaining the process, Dr Torsten Mayer-Gürr from Graz University of Technology, said: “We have a distance measurement every five seconds and thus about half a million measurements per month. From this, we then determine gravity field maps.”

The findings revealed that the water situation on the continent was not in a good place and is not showing signs of recovering in the last few years.

Dr Mayer-Gürr continued: “A few years ago, I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe, especially in Germany or Austria. We are actually getting problems with the water supply here – we have to think about this.”

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