Water in Minnesota is a critical cultural and natural resource, vital to our state’s recreation and tourism, industry, agriculture, and Indigenous culture and lifeways. Warmer and wetter conditions, combined with more intense and frequent precipitation events, challenge our ability to effectively manage our water resources for people, plants, and animals. While precipitation is increasing on average across the state, the larger events may also cause more water to runoff and make less available to recharge groundwater. This can reduce water availability, a trend observed in some regions of the state already. Climate projections and hydrologic models are needed to take these observations and provide scenarios of possible Minnesota groundwater futures so communities can prepare for, and respond to, potential changes in groundwater reserves.
This project will produce information about interactions between Minnesota’s changing climate and groundwater recharge, evapotranspiration, runoff, and crop water demand. The project leverages MCAP's work to create dynamically downscaled climate projections for Minnesota as well as USGS improvements to their Soil-Water-Balance (SWB) model. Using modeling results, we will develop narrative-based scenarios to help illustrate to lake managers, community resilience professionals, public officials, and others the opportunities and potential outcomes and impacts that can result from different changes in climate and groundwater availability and accompanying adaptation interventions or solutions. The information can be used to help communities and individuals address issues that intersect both groundwater and surface water, including evaluating future irrigation needs due to long-term precipitation changes, assessing the risk of drinking water shortages for communities that rely on groundwater, and reducing impacts to Minnesota’s lakes and rivers that have connections to groundwater systems.