The overall limited but locally important flow of fresh groundwater and solutes to the world's oceans and coastal ecosystems

Elco Luijendijk1, Tom Gleeson2, Nils Moosdorf3
1 University of Göttingen
2 University of Victoria
3 Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)

O 9.8 in Groundwater-surface water-interactions - processes and methods

22.03.2018, 14:30-14:45, 1

The flow of fresh groundwater towards the world oceans may provide substantial inputs of critical nutrients and solutes to the oceans. Here we present the first global model and map of coastal groundwater discharge and associated pollution risk to show that the contribution of fresh groundwater is much lower than previously assumed, and accounts for only 0.6% of the freshwater input and <3% of the solute input to the oceans. However, coastal groundwater discharge shows a high spatial variability and dominates freshwater and solute flux in 14% of the global coastline. As a result a substantial part of the global coastline, including sensitive ecosystems such as salt marshes and coral reefs, is at risk from pollution and eutrophication by terrestrially derived groundwater. Coastal groundwater discharge constitutes a diffuse and largely unmonitored source of pollutants that is likely to increase in the future.

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