Hydrological Services of Wetlands and Global Climate Change
The presence of wetland habitats in the landscape can have a significant influence on the movement and storage of water at a range of scales. As seasonal or perennial wet areas, wetlands typically slow the passage of water from one place to another and this slowing can provide various benefits, for example, by temporarily storing flood waters or dissipating the energy of coastal storms. Worldwide, wetland hydrological services (including disturbance regulation, water regulation and water supply) are estimated to have an annual value of 2,757 × 109 US$. It is anticipated that global climate change will increase pressure on wetlands and their capacity to provide hydrological services may be affected. Prolonged drought may affect soil structure so that wetlands do not soak up water as readily, and increasingly intense storm events may simply overwhelm a wetlands ability to reduce flooding. Understanding the role of wetlands in the hydrological cycle enables us to work towards optimum delivery of hydrological services and how they should best be managed and valued.
KeywordsNatural flood management Extreme events Climate regulation Groundwater recharge
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