Numerical modelling of climate change impacts on freshwater lenses on the North Sea Island of Borkum using hydrological and geophysical methods

Sulzbacher, H.; Wiederhold, H.; Siemon, B.; Grinat, M.; Igel, J.; Burschil, T.; Günther, T.; Hinsby, K.

A numerical, density dependent groundwater model is set up for the North Sea Island of Borkum to estimate climate change impacts on coastal aquifers and especially the situation of barrier islands in the Wadden Sea. The database includes information from boreholes, a seismic survey, a helicopter-borne electromagnetic (HEM) survey, monitoring of the freshwater-saltwater boundary by vertical electrode chains in two boreholes, measurements of groundwater table, pumping and slug tests, as well as water samples. Based on a statistical analysis of borehole columns, seismic sections and HEM, a hydrogeological model is set up. The groundwater model is developed using the finite-element programme FEFLOW. The density dependent groundwater model is calibrated on the basis of hydraulic, hydrological and geophysical data, in particular spatial HEM and local monitoring data. Verification runs with the calibrated model show good agreement between measured and computed hydraulic heads. A good agreement is also obtained between measured and computed density or total dissolved solids data for both the entire freshwater lens on a large scale and in the area of the well fields on a small scale.

For simulating future changes in this coastal groundwater system until the end of the current century, we use the climate scenario A2, specified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, in particular, the data for the German North Sea coast. Simulation runs show proceeding salinisation with time beneath the well fields of the two waterworks Waterdelle and Ostland.

The modelling study shows that the spreading of well fields is an appropriate protection measure against excessive salinisation of the water supply until the end of the current century.

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Sulzbacher, H. / Wiederhold, H. / Siemon, B. / et al: Numerical modelling of climate change impacts on freshwater lenses on the North Sea Island of Borkum using hydrological and geophysical methods. 2012. Copernicus Publications.

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