What are the Subsurface Environmental Problems?

Groundwater and Subsurface Environmental Assessments Under the Pressures of Climate Variability and Human Activities in Asia
  • Makoto Taniguchi


Subsurface environmental problems, such as land subsidence, groundwater contamination, and subsurface thermal anomalies, are important aspects of human life in the present and future but have not been evaluated as yet. Interactions between surface/subsurface and subsurface/coastal environments under the pressures of climate variability and human activities have been ­analysed for the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Taipei, and Seoul, which are in different stages of urbanization. Analyses from satellite GRACE data showed that land water storage in Bangkok decreased since 2002. Groundwater tracers and 3D numerical simulations of groundwater showed that the groundwater flow system­ in the urban aquifer has been highly disturbed by pumping, causing a vertical downward flux in the urban area. Subsurface temperatures observed in the study cities illustrate the magnitude and timing of surface warming due to global warming and heat island effects. The amount of the increase in surface temperature was found to be larger in the city center than that in suburban and rural areas, reflecting the degree of urbanization. Contamination histories in each city have been reconstructed from sediment studies of nutrient and heavy metal contaminations. Analyses of land cover/use changes show that urbanization caused a reduction of groundwater recharge and an increase in thermal transfer into the subsurface environment. Two groups of integrated indicators: (1) natural capacities; and (2) changing society and environments, were used to analyse the relationships between the developmental stage of the city and the subsurface environment. Comparing Tokyo with each city shows that some cities have a benefit by developing later and/or benefit from a natural capacity such as higher groundwater recharge rate as higher input to aquifer. However, excessive development in Jakarta causes severe damage by land subsidence. Groundwater and subsurface environments should be investigated for their adaptation and resilience to changing environment conditions. In addition, subsurface environments should be treated together with surface and coastal environments for better management and sustainable use.


Groundwater Recharge Surface Warming Land Subsidence Submarine Groundwater Discharge Subsurface Temperature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author thanks the members of the USE (Urban Subsurface Environment) project of RIHN (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature) for helping to conduct this research. This investigation is closely connected with other international research programs, including UNESCO-GRAPHIC (Groundwater Resources under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Changes).


  1. Burnett WC, Wattayakorn G, Taniguchi M, Dulaiova H, Sojisuporn P, Rungsupa S, Ishitobi T (2007) Groundwater-derived nutrient inputs to the Upper Gulf of Thailand. Cont Shelf Res 27:176–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hosono T (2010) The nitrate-arsenic boundary as an important concept in aquatic environmental studies. In: Taniguchi M, Shiraiwa T (eds) The dilemma of the boundary. Springer (in submission)Google Scholar
  3. Huang S, Pollack HN, Shen Po-Yu (2000) Temperature trends over the past five centuries reconstructed from borehole temperatures. Nature 403:756–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kagabu M, Shimada J, Nakamura T, Delinom R, Taniguchi M (2010) The groundwater age rejuvenation caused by the excessive groundwater pumping in Jakarta area, Indonesia. J Hydrol (under submission)Google Scholar
  5. Knorr W, Prentice IC, House JI, Holland EA (2005) Long-term sensitivity of soil carbon turnover to warming. Nature 433:298–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Taniguchi M, Shimada J, Tanaka T, Kayane I, Sakura Y, Shimano Y, Depaah-Siakwan S, Kawashima S (1999) Disturbances of temperature-depth profiles due to surface climate-change and subsurface water flow; (1) An effect of linear increase in surface temperature caused by global warming and urbanization in Tokyo metropolitan area, Japan. Water Resources Research 35:1507–1517Google Scholar
  7. Taniguchi M, Uemura T (2005) Effects of urbanization and groundwater flow on the subsurface temperature in Osaka, Japan. Phys Earth Planet Inter 152:305–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Taniguchi M, Uemura T, Jago-on K (2007) Combined effects of urbanization and global warming on subsurface temperature in four Asian cities. Vadose Zone J 6:591–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Taniguchi M, Burnett WC, Ness GD (2009a) Integrated research on subsurface environments in Asian urban areas. Sci Total Environ 404:377–392. doi: 10.1016/i.scitotenv.2009.02.002 Google Scholar
  10. Taniguchi M, Shimada J, Fukuda Y, Yamano M, Onodera S, Kaneko S, Yoshikoshi A (2009b) Anthropogenic effects on the subsurface thermal and groundwater environments in Osaka, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. Sci Total Environ 407:3153–3164. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.06.064 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Taniguchi M (2010) Subsurface environmental problems. In M. Taniguchi ed., Subsurface environments in Asia. Gakuho-sha (Japanese)Google Scholar
  12. Umezawa Y, Hosono T, Onodera S, Siringan F, Buapeng S, Delinom R, Jago-on KA, Yoshimizu C, Tayasu I, Nagata T, Taniguchi M (2009) The characteristics of nitrate contamination in groundwater at developing Asian-Mega cities, estimated by nitrate d15N and d18O values. Sci Total Environ 407:3219–3231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Wang C-H (2005) Subsurface environmental changes in Taipei, Taiwan: current status. In: Proceedings of RIHN international symposium on human impacts on urban subsurface environments, October 18–20, 2005, Kyoto, Japan, pp 55–59Google Scholar
  14. Yamamoto K, Fukuda Y, Nakaegawa T, Nishijima J (2009) Landwater variation in four major river basins of the Indochina peninsula as revealed by GRACE. Earth Planets Space 59:193–200Google Scholar
  15. Yamano M, Goto S, Miyakoshi A, Hamamoto H, Lubis RF, Monyrath V, Kamioka S, Huang S, Taniguchi M (2009) Study of the thermal environment evolution in urban areas based on underground temperature distributions. Sci Total Environ 407(9):3120–3128Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Humanity and NatureKamigamo, Kita-kuJapan

Personalised recommendations