Integrating groundwater dynamics in regional hydrological modelling

F. F. Hattermann, V. Krysanova, F. Wechsung, Martin Wattenbach

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    60 Citations (Scopus)


    The paper presents an integrated catchment model and a method with which it is possible to analyse local water table dynamics inside subbasins along with river flow on the regional scale. A simple but comprehensive mechanistic groundwater module coupled with the eco-hydrological model SWIM (Soil and Water Integrated Model), which integrates hydrological processes, vegetation, erosion and nutrient dynamics at the watershed scale, was used in the study. The reliability of the model results was tested under well defined boundary conditions by comparing the results with those from a two dimensional numeric groundwater model under steady-state and transient conditions as well as with observed data for two meso-scale basins, using contour maps of the long term mean water table, observed groundwater level data in wells and observed river discharge. Especially in lowland catchments, where the water table is relatively shallow, the dynamics of river discharge are mainly influenced by changes in groundwater contribution to river flow. However, a correct reproduction of river discharge by hydrological models does not guarantee the adequacy of simulated spatio-temporal dynamics of soil moisture, water fluxes and groundwater in the basin. But even though the primary purpose of distributed hydrological models is to reproduce river discharge and water fluxes in the entire catchment, they are often validated using only the observed river discharge at the basin outlet for comparisons. The additional use of groundwater observations for model validation can serve as a measure to overcome the problem.

    The study area is located in the lowland part of the Elbe river basin, which is representative for semi-humid landscapes in Europe, where water availability during the summer season is the main limiting factor for plant growth and crop yields. The importance of adequate reproduction of the groundwater dynamics is illustrated in an investigation of a decreasing trend in regional groundwater level. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1039-1051
    Number of pages12
    JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • hydrological validation
    • eco-hydrological model
    • groundwater dynamics
    • groundwater module
    • water level trend
    • FLOW
    • BASINS
    • SCALE


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