Climate change could render groundwater undrinkable by 2100, experts warn

Experts have warned that climate change could make groundwater undrinkable by 2100 due to rising temperatures.

Susanne Bentz from the Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) explained in a press release that this means groundwater would need to be boiled before it is safe to drink.

Bentz added that, according to climate scenarios, this issue could affect millions of people by 2100. Earth’s temperature plays a crucial role in water quality, and researchers indicate that it could influence the levels of harmful substances like arsenic and manganese.

Bentz noted that high concentrations of these substances could negatively impact human health, especially if groundwater is a primary source of drinking water. Additionally, pathogens like Legionella bacteria could become more widespread.

Furthermore, rising water temperatures affect biodiversity. For instance, certain fish species like salmon rely on spawning grounds in rivers fed by groundwater.

Researchers also highlighted that little was previously known about how rising surface temperatures due to climate change would impact groundwater. Bentz’s team has now projected changes in groundwater temperature worldwide by 2100. Their findings were published in June in the scientific journal “Nature Geoscience.”

The study analyzes different greenhouse gas emission scenarios. In one scenario, groundwater temperatures are expected to rise by 2.1 degrees Celsius, while in the most severe scenario, they could rise by 3.5 degrees.

Under these conditions, between 77 million and 188 million people, or between 59 million and 588 million people, could live in areas where groundwater temperatures exceed the maximum allowable limit for drinking water set by each country.

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