Damn! These egghead are really on to something!! And whaddya know: Dine’ on Black Mesa have asserted for years that Peabody Coal’s draining of the aquifer was impacting precipitation there in a negative way. Maybe more eggheads need to go to Pauline Whitesinger’s & herd sheep for awhile!!
Such implications are particularly critical in desert ecosystems-or anywhere some corporate scum want to plunder locals’ groundwater supplies…
I have the Nature Geoscience article as pdf. Here’s how ES&T reported on it.
“You could safely say [that] if subsurface water is heavily
impacted”-whether by agricultural pumping, sea level rise, or massive
parking lots that prevent groundwater recharge-“you literally could
be affecting the weather.”
Environmental Science & Technology
Publication Date (Web): October 22, 2008
Water belowground affects climate above
New modeling results show that groundwater conditions feed back into
climate by impacting energy transactions at the earth’s surface.
Scientists have long modeled how shifts in climate will affect
precipitation and other water cycles aboveground, which will lead to
changes in groundwater conditions. Now, researchers are beginning to
find that the feedback goes both ways. New research pinpoints the
zone most impacted by such feedbacks in modeling work published in
Nature Geoscience (DOI 10.1038/ngeo315) this month..
Water is a major conveyor of heat on land and in the air, and water
movements-in the form of soil moisture, river flow, plant
transpiration, or evaporation, among others-all affect groundwater.
Previous approaches to modeling climate shifts and water did not
include this two-way conversation.
To rectify this situation, Reed Maxwell of the Colorado School of
Mines and Stefan Kollet of the University of Bonn (Germany) modeled
precipitation and evapotranspiration as indicators of changes in
latent heat flux, or energy at the earth’s surface that can warm the
lower atmosphere. The researchers then compared possible climate
scenarios in a watershed in Oklahoma by evaluating different
characteristics, including water-table depths, atmospheric
temperatures, and precipitation.
They found a “critical zone” at depths of 2-5 meters in which
groundwater feedbacks influenced energy fluxes at the surface. At
deeper groundwater levels the communication between surface and
subsurface is disconnected, and land-air surface interactions are
dominated by rainfall and plant cover. In water tables at shallower
depths, plants’ roots get plenty of water for transpiration, so
energy fluxes don’t change as much.
“This is the beginning of an integrated approach, including
groundwater in [modeling] the hydrologic cycle” with regard to
climate, says Maxwell. Pinning down changes in regional precipitation
remains difficult because of uncertainty in climate change models.
And mapping groundwater reservoirs to watersheds above with different
boundaries may confound the modeling of these interactions. However,
Maxwell says, the new modeling results reinforce energy feedbacks in
these systems, particularly where temperatures are on the rise under
On the basis of the new work, Patrick Reed of Pennsylvania State
University says, “You could safely say [that] if subsurface water is
heavily impacted”-whether by agricultural pumping, sea level rise, or
massive parking lots that prevent groundwater recharge-“you literally
could be affecting the weather.”