Mapping Water-Table Depths Over Time to Assess Desiccation of Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems in the Netherlands

Abstract

During the past decades, groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the Netherlands have been threatened by a decline in the water-table level. However, information on water-table depths and changes in water-table depths is insufficient and outdated. For policy evaluation, spatially explicit and detailed information on water-table depths is required, especially in areas with groundwater-dependent ecosystems including wetlands. Some 35,000 observations of seasonal fluctuation characteristics of water-table depths in nature conservation areas were made since 1980 during soil surveys. These observations were derived from characteristics of the soil profile or from measurements in boreholes. These observations were used in a space-time geostatistical analysis to map the seasonal fluctuation of water-table depths between 1980 and 2007. First, systematic differences between different estimation modes used through the years were corrected. Next, observations were correlated with area-wide available ancillary data using multiple linear regression. Simple kriging was used to interpolate the resulting space-time residuals. Maps of the predicted mean spring water-table depths and the accuracy of these predictions were used to identify areas where the water-table is deeper than favorable. Changes of water-table depths on the national scale over the past 25 years were assessed, and recommendations were made to increase the accuracy of future predictions.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality for funding this research as part of the Basic Research program for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. We thank Arjen van Hinsberg, Guus Beugelink and Rien Pastoors for their involvement during the project, and Hans Visser, Dick Brus, and two anonymous reviewers who reviewed earlier versions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tom Hoogland.

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Hoogland, T., Heuvelink, G.B.M. & Knotters, M. Mapping Water-Table Depths Over Time to Assess Desiccation of Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems in the Netherlands. Wetlands 30, 137–147 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-009-0011-4

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Keywords

  • Accuracy
  • Nature conservation
  • Seasonal fluctuation characteristics
  • Space-time geostatistics
  • Temporal trend