Changes in seasonality of groundwater level fluctuations in a temperate-cold climate transition zone
Journal article, 2020

In cold (i.e. boreal, subarctic, snowy) climate zones, dynamic groundwater storage is greatly affected by the timing and amount of snowmelt. With global warming, cold climates in the northern hemisphere will transition to temperate. As temperatures rise, the dominant type of precipitation will change from snow to rain in winter. Further, the growing season is prolonged. This has a direct impact on the aquifer recharge pattern. However, little is known about the effect of changing annual recharge regimes on groundwater storage. The present work deduces the impact of shifting climate zones on groundwater storage by evaluating the effect of climate seasonality on intra-annual hydraulic head fluctuations. The work compares intra-annual hydraulic head fluctuations in a temperate-cold climate transition zone (Fennoscandia) from two different periods (1980–1989, 2001–2010). This is done by associating rising vs. declining hydraulic heads with hydrometeorology. Due to the northwards migration of the temperate climate zone, there is a shift in seasonality between the two periods. This has a negative impact on groundwater levels, which are significantly lower in 2001–2010, particularly near the climate transition zone. The results demonstrate that increasing temperatures in cold climate regions may change the seasonality of groundwater recharge, by altering the main recharge period from being snowmelt-dominated (spring) to rain-dominated (winter). Additionally, this is connected to the duration of the growing season, which impedes groundwater recharge. The coupled effect of this on groundwater in the study area has led to a significant decrease in groundwater storage.

Snowmelt recharge

Climate change

Dynamic groundwater storage


Groundwater level fluctuations


Michelle Nygren

University of Gothenburg

Markus Giese

University of Gothenburg

Björn Klöve

University of Oulu

Ezra Haaf

University of Gothenburg

Pekka Rossi

University of Oulu

Barthel Roland

University of Gothenburg

Journal of Hydrology

0022-1694 (ISSN)

Vol. 8 100062

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Water Engineering

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources



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