Recent trends of groundwater temperatures in Austria
Climate change is one of if not the most pressing challenge modern society faces. Increasing temperatures are observed all over the planet and the impact of climate change on the hydrogeological cycle has long been shown. However, so far we have insufficient knowledge on the influence of atmospheric warming on shallow groundwater temperatures. While some studies analyse the implication climate change has for selected wells, large-scale studies are so far lacking. Here we focus on the combined
... pact of climate change in the atmosphere and local hydrogeological conditions on groundwater temperatures in 227 wells in Austria, which have in part been observed since 1964. A linear analysis finds a temperature change of +0.7 ± 0.8 K in the years from 1994 to 2013. In the same timeframe surface air temperatures in Austria increased by 0.5 ± 0.3 K, displaying a much smaller variety. However, most of the extreme changes in groundwater temperatures can be linked to local hydrogeological conditions. Correlation between groundwater temperatures and nearby surface air temperatures was additionally analysed. They vary greatly, with correlation coefficients of −0.3 in central Linz to 0.8 outside of Graz. In contrast, the correlation of nationwide groundwater temperatures and surface air temperatures is high, with a correlation coefficient of 0.83. All of these findings indicate that while atmospheric climate change can be observed in nationwide groundwater temperatures, individual wells are often primarily dominated by local hydrogeological conditions. In addition to the linear temperature trend, a step-wise model was also applied that identifies climate regime shifts, which were observed globally in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Hinting again at the influence of local conditions, at most 22 % of all wells show these climate regime shifts. However, we were able to identify an additional shift in 2007, which was observed by 37 % of all wells. Overall, the step-wise representation provides a slightly more accurate picture of observed temperatures than the linear trend.