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Substantial groundwater resources underlie Africa

New research with BGS by Richard Taylor

Substantial groundwater resources underlie Africa

New research by a British Geological Survey-led project team, with Dr Richard Taylor (UCL Geography), maps and for the first time quantifies the substantial groundwater resources that underlie the African continent. This study, published in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, reveals that groundwater resources in Africa are orders of magnitude greater than the water present at the surface in rivers, lakes and wetlands.


The quantitative maps draw from over 250 studies. The analysis reveals, however, that high-intensity abstraction of groundwater (e.g. individual wells pumping in excess of 10 litres per second) for irrigation and town water supplies may be possible only in a few areas. The low-intensity development of groundwater may nevertheless prove an invaluable strategy for many parts of Africa, allowing them to adapt to the high variability that now exists in surface water resources and rainfall, which is expected to increase as a result of global warming.





MacDonald, A., Bonsor, H.C., O Dochartaigh, B.E. and Taylor, R.G., 2012. Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa. Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 7, 024009.




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