The social implications of Submarine Groundwater Discharge from an Ecosystem Services perspective: A systematic review

Aaron Alorda Kleinglas*, Isabel Ruiz Mallén, Marc Diego Feliu, Valenti Rodellas Vila, Joan Manuel Bruach-Menchén, Jordi Garcia Orellana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) is recognized as a fundamental hydrological process that supports many coastal biogeochemical cycles and social-ecological systems. However, very little has been investigated about how SGD affects society and, specifically, human well-being. This study systematically examines the published scientific literature on the social implications of SGD by using an Ecosystem Service (ES) perspective. Coastal services provided by ecosystems dependent on SGD are analyzed and clustered in the four main cate- gories of Ecosystem Services (i.e., Provisioning, Supporting, Regulating and Cultural), which are in turn divided into subcategories defined as outcomes. This allows identifying and discussing both benefits and threats to coastal societies resulting from SGD outcomes. From the 1532 articles initially reviewed, the most frequently mentioned category was the supporting services (835) due to the mainstream trend in scientific literature to focus on the role of SGD as a process influencing coastal biogeochemical cycles. Conversely, cultural ES were mentioned in only 49 cases, which should not necessarily be interpreted as a lack of research or interest in this topic, but that this type of references are often not found in the scientific literature but in the grey literature. A detailed publication review was additionally conducted, identifying 114 case-studies from 96 different locations worldwide that reported cases in which SGD had social implications on the well-being. Our review also shows how the different types of Ecosystem Services can have multiple synergies and trade-offs between them, resulting in unequal impacts among stakeholder groups. Overall, this study identifies research gaps related to Ecosystem Services provided by SGD as well as opportunities for further studies, while developing an analytical framework that relies on the Ecosystem Services approach to guide future research on the social implications of SGD.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Issue number103742
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Coastal Ocean
  • Ecosystem services
  • SGD
  • SGD-ES
  • Social implications
  • Submarine Groundwater Discharge


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