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Anthropogenic and natural alterations of shallow groundwater temperatures

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lorna Everett.

Shallow subsurface temperatures are influenced by various processes. In particular, the thermal environment under urban, built-up areas is profoundly changed by anthropogenic activities. These changes in the urban environment lead to microclimatic changes and increasing atmospheric temperatures, a phenomenon which is commonly referred to as the atmospheric urban heat island (UHI) effect. A respective anthropogenic warming can also be observed in the subsurface, where elevated groundwater temperatures (GWT) occur in urban aquifers. Several studies reported locally measured increased GWTs from fast-growing mega-cities, but also in smaller cities, significant heat anomalies in the urban groundwater are observed. The examination of potential heat sources by analytical modelling reveals that increased ground surface temperatures and basements of buildings act as dominant drivers for the anthropogenic heat input into the groundwater. While some studies discuss these heat anomalies as beneficial for shallow geothermal energy use, thermally affected GWT are also likely to have an impact on groundwater quality and thus potentially drinking water quality. Furthermore, atmospheric temperatures in rural areas also exhibit an increasing trend due to climatic changes and influence the temperature conditions in the subsurface. Statistical analyses of long-term temperature time-series indicate that shallow aquifers, which are linked to the atmosphere through the unsaturated zone, exhibit a pronounced coupling to short-term changes in air temperature. Thus, further atmospheric warming is likely to have a significant influence, not only on soil temperatures, but also on temperatures of economically important water resources.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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