Historically low groundwater levels in southeast Sweden

4/07/2016 , , 0 Comments

Photo: Liselotte Tunemar, SGU

A dry spring in the southeast

Measuring stations in Böda on Öland, Gotska Sandön and in Ronneby show record low groundwater levels that normally would only occur during August-September. According to Geological Survey of Sweden, groundwater levels in this region have been dropping continuously for the last five years. However, cyclical variations of high and low groundwater levels of 11-12 years are not uncommon. 

Without large amounts of rainfall in April, before the growing season starts, groundwater levels will not be able to return to normal and communities may experience problems of water availability. Shallow wells are most affected by low groundwater levels as they risk drying out. In low lying coastal areas there is also a risk of saltwater intrusion. Out of 9 million 1.2 million people in Sweden rely on groundwater from private wells. 

Restrictions on irrigation on Gotland came into force already on 1st of April since the region want to avoid heavy restrictions during the summer when tourism is booming. Gotland municipality has also decided to build a desalination plant that should be operational this summer according to NyTeknik. Desalination is however a very energy intensive and expensive process but perhaps the brackish Baltic water is less costly to desalinate.

Groundwater levels above normal in blue and way below normal in red. Source: SGU (2016)
It is likely that southeast Sweden will increasingly face problems of groundwater scarcity while the rest of the country will experience higher groundwater levels as a consequence of climate change.

Spring has so far been unusually warm which means an earlier growing season and migration of birds. March was warmer than average in the entire country, with 3-4C above average  in parts of middle and northern Sweden.
Source: SMHI


Out of the ashes into the fire

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