Climate change, frost, and groundwater recharge in the Midwestern U.S.

Project Type: 
Core Research Project
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
NOAA-SARP (provided initial funding)
Project Fellows: 
Status: 
Ongoing
Science Themes: 

The one-dimensional Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) model was used to simulate two continuous 29-year periods representing historical (1970-1999) and future (2040-2069) climate conditions in southern Wisconsin, based on downscaled GCM data from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP).

Modeling showed that warmer winter and spring temperatures lead to a decrease in runoff and a commensurate increase in recharge. Additional modeling with the frost portion of the model disabled confirmed the importance of soil frost formation to the results. These results held across different climate models and a wide range of soil types.

Groundwater and stream baseflows are critical to many water resource issues (e.g., water supply, wastewater discharge permitting,  fisheries, groundwater flooding). In the midwestern U.S. one of the likeliest impacts of climate change will be increases in groundwater recharge, resulting from both increases in dormant-season precipitation and decreases in snow and soil frost. This research provides quantitative information on these issues.

Presentations: 
  • 2010 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting December 3‐7 2012, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting December 3‐7 2012, San Francisco, CA
  • 2012 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting December 3‐7 2012, San Francisco, CA
  • 2012 Wisconsin ASCE Technical Conference
  • 2012 Graduate Climate Conference October 25‐28, 2012, Pack Forest, OR; 
Other: 
  • Evan Murdock has held focus groups with organic dairy producers and graziers as part of an effort to understand their beliefs and attitudes towards climate change and climatic risk. This work will serve to increase our understanding of the links between producer's identity and values, their personal beliefs about the risks their operations face, and their willingness to engage in adaptive and mitigative activities.
  • Evan Murdock is completing a paper on his assessment of climate change impacts on groundwater recharge.