A warmer climate increases evaporative demand. However, response to warming depends on water availability. Existing earth system models represent soil moisture but simplify groundwater connections, a primary control on soil moisture. Here we apply an integrated surface-groundwater hydrologic model to evaluate the sensitivity of shallow groundwater to warming across the majority of the US. We show that as warming shifts the balance between water supply and demand, shallow groundwater storage can buffer plant water stress; but only where shallow groundwater connections are present, and not indefinitely. As warming persists, storage can be depleted and connections lost. Similarly, in the arid western US warming does not result in significant groundwater changes because this area is already largely water limited. The direct response of shallow groundwater storage to warming demonstrates the strong and early effect that low to moderate warming may have on groundwater storage and evapotranspiration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)