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Impact of hydrological extremes on alpine karst groundwater resources

Project Reference: 303837
Activity Code: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-CIG
Coordinator:Karlsruher Institut für Technologie


Karst aquifers supply ca. 25 % of the global population with drinking water. In some European countries and Alpine regions, more than 50 % of the water supply relies on karst groundwater. At the same time, karst aquifers are particularly vulnerable to contamination, because of their hydro-geological characteristics, such as rapid and turbulent flow in a network of conduits and caves. Karst springs often show rapid and marked discharge variations in response to precipitation and snowmelt. Chemical and microbial parameters also display large variations. Long periods of good water quality are occasionally interrupted by short but intense contamination events, often following storm rainfall. Identifying these events and reacting accordingly is crucial for the safe use of these water resources. Due to climate change, spatial and temporal precipitation patterns will change and the frequency and intensity of storm rainfall will increase.
Therefore, contamination events at alpine karst springs are also expected to become more frequent and intense. Thus, the overall goal of the proposed project is to study the influence of intensified storm rainfall events on groundwater contamination in alpine karst regions. The three major methodological approaches of the project include:

  1. Detailed monitoring of spring discharge and water quality parameters at selected springs;
  2. experimental field work, such as tracer tests during different hydrological conditions, ranging from low- to high-flow conditions;
  3. application of different concepts for groundwater protection zone delineation and development of an adjusted concept which incorporates the impact of climate change.

This will directly allow a re-evaluation of existing groundwater delineation guidelines, the prediction of the contamination risk and help save groundwater as a future drinking water resource.

Project Details: 

Start Date: 2012-03-01
End Date: 2016-02-29
EU Contribution: 100 000 Euro
Total Costs: 100 000 Euro
Programme Acronym: FP7-People
Subprogramme Area: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-CIG
Funding Scheme: Support for training and career development of researcher
Administrative Contact Person: Berndt KRONIMUS (Dr)