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Funding cuts force MSc closures


Just a few months after the NERC decision to withdraw funding for taught-Masters training Leeds University has announced the closure of some of their environmental courses. MSc courses in Geochemistry, Environmental Geochemistry and Hydrogeology will no longer run after 2012. Citing the removal of NERC support as a key factor Leeds University have found that these environmental courses are no longer financially viable. A similar situation exists at Cardiff University which has decided to close their MSc in Applied Environmental Geology; the MSc in Environmental Hydrogeology at Cardiff will remain however. Along with Cardiff University there are only 4 other institutions in the UK now offering taught masters in hydrogeology - Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and Strathclyde Universities.


Agricultural Industry must adapt to changes in UK climate


The agricultural industry must anticipate changes to the water cycle due to more climatic extremes say researchers at Reading University. In a report ‘Water for agriculture – implications for future policy and practice’ commissioned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England, researchers explain how water availability and water usage for agriculture are likely to change under climate change scenarios. With higher temperatures, drier summers and wetter winters expected, it is warned that groundwater supplies are likely to become more seasonal and less-reliable during the summer, placing more reliance on the storage of winter rainfall for irrigation later in the year. The report also highlights that winter run-off is likely to increase making shallow groundwater supplies more vulnerable to pollution from the surface.

To read the report ‘Water for agriculture – implications for future policy and practice’ please visit

For research about how our water cycle may change under climate change scenarios please visit


Estimate made of contribution to sea level rise of groundwater abstraction


Joint research undertaken by Utrecht University and the Dutch research institute Deltares has estimated that global groundwater depletion contributes to an annual sea level rise of 0.8 mm. Major groundwater depletion, where groundwater is abstracted for food production and agriculture at rates which are significantly greater than those at which groundwater is recharged, is most acute in areas of India, Pakistan, the USA and China. The research project uses the assumption that nearly all of the groundwater abstracted from aquifers ends up in the sea. While this process of sea level rise has been acknowledged it was not included in recent reports by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as there was too much uncertainty. The researchers at Utrecht University and Deltares hope that their work addresses the lack of reliable data and highlights the significance of groundwater abstraction.

To read the news article prepared by Utrecht University please visit their web site here


Groundwater – adapting to climate change


The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee of Climate Change has published its first assessment of the UK’s preparedness for climate change. The ASC provides advice on the government’s adaptation plans which include the impact that climate change will have on water resources. The vulnerability of the water resources of London and the South East of England is recognised within the report. In this region, in which groundwater is key to water supply and sustaining ecosystems, water availability and demand are already finely balanced and summer rainfall is predicted to reduce. Technologies such as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs), effluent re-use and the use of brackish groundwater are all likely to play a part in ensuring the resilience of water resources to climate change.

To read the national assessment published by the ASC please visit

To read Defra’s strategic statement on the ASC report please visit


The Joint Agencies Groundwater Directive Advisory Group (JAGDAG) has been reconvened


Under Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations (EPR) 2010 the Environment Agency is required to publish a list of substances that it considers to be hazardous substances on the basis of their intrinsic properties. This implements the Groundwater Daughter Directive (2006/118/EC). Hazardous substances effectively replace the previous List 1 substances under the old Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC).

Hazardous substances must be prevented from entering groundwater. A non-hazardous pollutant is defined in EPR 2010 as any pollutant other than a hazardous substance. The classification of substances as hazardous or non-hazardous is relevant in all cases where regulation of an input of pollutants to groundwater (a "groundwater activity") is required by the EPR 2010.

JAGDAG has been reconvened to provide a cost-effective mechanism for making UK wide determinations and to facilitate EC reporting requirements. Although the identification of hazardous substances in England & Wales is the Environment Agency's responsibility under EPR 2010, it follows the procedures set up by JAGDAG.

Further information on the work of JAGDAG, including the list of substances considered to be hazardous, can be found on the UKTAG website

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