Caister Academic Press

Groundwater Microbial Communities in Times of Climate Change

Alice Retter, Clemens Karwautz and Christian Griebler
from: Climate Change and Microbial Ecology: Current Research and Future Trends (Second Edition) (Edited by: Jürgen Marxsen). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2020) Pages: 421-450.


Open-access article
Climate change has a massive impact on the global water cycle. Subsurface ecosystems, the earth largest reservoir of liquid freshwater, currently experience a significant increase in temperature and serious consequences from extreme hydrological events. Extended droughts as well as heavy rains and floods have measurable impacts on groundwater quality and availability. In addition, the growing water demand puts increasing pressure on the already vulnerable groundwater ecosystems. Global change induces undesired dynamics in the typically nutrient and energy poor aquifers that are home to a diverse and specialized microbiome and fauna. Current and future changes in subsurface environmental conditions, without doubt, alter the composition of communities, as well as important ecosystem functions, for instance the cycling of elements such as carbon and nitrogen. A key role is played by the microbes. Understanding the interplay of biotic and abiotic drivers in subterranean ecosystems is required to anticipate future effects of climate change on groundwater resources and habitats. This chapter summarizes potential threats to groundwater ecosystems with emphasis on climate change and the microbial world down below our feet in the water saturated subsurface.
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