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New CRP: Isotopic Assessment of the Impacts of Climatic and Hydrological Changes on Wetland-groundwater Ecosystem Interactions (F33027)

New Coordinated Research Project

Aerial image of a wetland in Brazil. (Photo: Pantanal - OBT - Coordenação-Geral de Observação da Terra/ INPE)

The IAEA is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to evaluate the impact of hydrological change, driven by land use changes and climate change, in wetland–groundwater ecosystems. The CRP entitled “Isotopic assessment of the impacts of climatic and hydrological changes on wetland–groundwater ecosystem interactions” will be conducted over 4 years.

Groundwater systems act as a buffer against climate variability when surface water systems are low. However, replenishment of the groundwater system via recharge is being impacted not just by climate change but also by variable groundwater management practices and land use changes. Visualisation of these impacts on groundwater is difficult, driving assumptions that the resource is more resilient than it is. In contrast to groundwater systems, wetlands provide strong visualisation of how water resources are impacted by both natural and anthropogenic processes.

Wetlands and groundwater systems are not independent entities since connectivity between them is essential to maintaining the quality and quantity of water in both. Understanding this connectivity is critical for the long term protection of wetlands as well as sustainability of groundwater systems that depend on them. Local authorities and decision makers can see the impacts on wetlands but to understand how these impacts affect the groundwater system requires a quantitative assessment of hydrological fluxes and processes in wetlands. These include identifying water sources and sinks, intra-wetland flow paths, evaporation processes, and water residence time.

Environmental stable and radioactive isotopes, together with conventional hydrogeological tools (remote sensing, GIS, pumping tests, geophysical tools and hydrochemistry), provide unique information on origins, interactions, and transit times that are key to better understand hydrological processes and fluxes in these changing environments. The CRP will provide guidelines on how to use both stable and radioactive isotopes to assess groundwater resources through the lens of wetland systems in Member States.

CRP Overall Objective

The overall objective of the CRP is to demonstrate the usefulness of environmental isotopes to better understand hydrological processes and fluxes in wetland–groundwater ecosystems.

Specific Research Objectives

  1. Determine and improve the suite of isotopes and other hydrochemical tracers to assess sources, interactions and flow paths of groundwater systems sustaining major types of wetlands.
  2. Assess and improve the interpretation of hydrological processes, sources, interactions and pathways in groundwater systems and linked wetlands.
  3. Develop best practice guidelines on integrating environmental isotopes and other indicators into assessment of hydrological processes for efficient water resources management in groundwater systems and dependent wetlands.

How to join the CRP

Please submit your proposal for a Research Contract or Agreement by 15 November 2021 via email to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA website.

The CRP may remain open to additional proposals thereafter, depending on resources. All applicants should note that the first planned Research Coordination Meeting (RCM) is planned for June 2022.

For further information related to this project, applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page.

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