Depletion and response of deep groundwater to climate-induced pumping variability

Tess A. Russo, Upmanu Lall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Groundwater constitutes a critical component of our water resources. Widespread groundwater level declines have occurred in the USA over recent decades, including in regions not typically considered water stressed, such as areas of the Northwest and mid-Atlantic Coast. This loss of water storage reflects extraction rates that exceed natural recharge and capture. Here, we explore recent changes in the groundwater levels of deep aquifers from wells across the USA, and their relation to indices of interannual to decadal climate variability and to annual precipitation. We show that groundwater level changes correspond to selected global climate variations. Although climate-induced variations of deep aquifer natural recharge are expected to have multi-year time lags, we find that deep groundwater levels respond to climate over timescales of less than one year. In irrigated areas, the annual response to local precipitation in the deepest wells may reflect climate-induced pumping variability. An understanding of how the human response to drought through pumping leads to deep groundwater changes is critical to manage the impacts of interannual to decadal and longer climate variability on the nation's water resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-108
Number of pages4
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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