We explore the effects of a changing climate on groundwater dynamics based on thermo-hydraulic simulations to reconstruct the temperature and pressure below the State of Brandenburg between 1950 and 2010. In this time period, observations point to ~1°C surface temperature warming, large annual fluctuations in groundwater recharge, and periods of high groundwater abstraction volume — all leading to water stress conditions. Our input structural model integrates Permian to Cenozoic sedimentary units with essential geological features controlling the regional groundwater flow, including salt structures, permeable glacial valleys, and aquitard discontinuities. We use a grid-based hydrologic model to derive inflow and outflow rates across the top boundary of the subsurface model. Simulation outputs are verified against data from available observation wells.
The simulation results demonstrate that the regional flow pattern in the deep aquifers (>1 km deep) is mainly controlled by the basin geometry, while shallow groundwater dynamics is heavily influenced by high-frequency climate forcing. Seasonal fluctuations in groundwater level are observed in areas of shallow (<10 m) water table, with the highest levels corresponding to months of greater recharge rates. Where the water table is deeper, it responds to precipitation pulses with a delay of several months. Seasonal groundwater heating and cooling is limited to the first 10–30 meters, except within glacial valleys where high hydraulic gradients and permeabilities lead to a deepening of the advective heat transport. In addition, we identified periods and regions of significant groundwater abstraction and sustained groundwater warming over the entire simulation period within urban areas.