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Climate change – Aridification – Changing Soil – Transforming Landscape


Through the change of the natural water cycle climate change results in significant landscape changes. Processes
are primarily induced by the permanent shortage in groundwater, which can lead to the transformation of soils
and as a consequence to the modification of vegetation. During  several  decades of research on the lowland
territories of Hungary we determined the degree of water shortage in soils. It was also proved that  changes,
especially  in terms of saline areas, resulted in significant transformations (e.g.  decrease of salt content,
significant drop of Na, increase of humus content). These processes affect not only natural landscapes, but also
have serious economic consequences.

The degree of groundwater shortage:

As a result of precipitation decrease, especially from the 1980s, the greatest changes in the groundwater
table, which sank at some locations by 7 m, were experienced on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve. (Note however
that at some locations in the Nagykunság and Jászság, being intensively irrigated, a slight groundwater rise was
It is novel even in an international comparison that we applied remote sensing and GIS for determining
the degree of annual water shortage, being 4.8 km3
in 1995 and 2003 (Table 1). The above value is seemingly
low, however it is almost as  much  as  the  total annual water consumption of Hungary (Rakonczai 2002,
Rakonczai-Kovács 2006).
Beside climatic reasons there are further reasons for groundwater depletion on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve.
However, the dominant role of precipitation shortage seems inevitable, as due to the geomorphology of the
territory the only source of groundwater is rainfall (except areas along the two rivers).

Table 1 Estimated water shortage on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve compared to data of the early 1970s

Transformation of soils:

Permanent groundwater shortage may induce significant changes in soils according to our experiences
and measurements at various locations on the plain territories of Hungary.
In the middle of the 1970s detailed geomorphological and pedological investigations were made on  the
Szabadkígyós Steppe (being a unit of the Körös-Maros National Park at present) as a part of the preparations for
declaring  the area protected. Beside the precise morphological mapping of sodified bench microforms, sample
plots were identified for joint evaluations made together with botanists. In the framework  of  the  later  study
detailed botanic surveys were made along with the analysis of the chemical parameters of soils  lying  under
different vegetation types. At that time nobody thought that after 25-30 years transformations could be detected
on the anyway static landscape.

Reference: Rakonczai, J. ,Department of Physical Geography and Geoinformatics, University of Szeged, Egyetem str. 2. Szeged, 6722
Hungary. Tel.: 36-62-544-395, Fax: 36-62-544-158, E-mail: rjanos@earth.geo.u-szeged.hu

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1 Comment

  1. Md. Amran Hossain says:

    the change of the natural water cycle results in landscape change and here the main reason is precipitation decrease. why does precipitation decrease ?

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