Research shows wet climates at risk from groundwater extraction

Nov. 4, 2013

ADELAIDE, South Australia — NCGRT scientists found trees in wet areas depend on groundwater more than those in dry areas.

ADELAIDE, South Australia — Scientists at Australia's National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) have found that woodlands, even those in wet climates, are at risk from over-extraction of groundwater, according to a press release on

PhD researcher Sepideh Zolfaghar studied how groundwater depth affects eucalypts in a humid forest in New South Wales, Australia and found that in areas with high rainfall, and a shallow water table, forests will use groundwater directly, the release reported.

"We have now shown that even trees growing in wet climates are far more sensitive to water stress than we originally thought and may be less likely to survive if too much groundwater is extracted," said Professor Derek Eamus of NCGRT and University Technology of Sydney, who supervised the research.

"[The trees have] grown in an environment where water supply is continuous and plentiful, so they haven't evolved to cope with droughts," said Zolfaghar. "Trees in dry areas, in comparison, have developed drought resistance and are more resilient."

According to the release, it is estimated that the world is currently extracting 1000 cubic kilometers of groundwater every year and causing water shortages in many areas.

Read the full release here.

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