2018 CSDMS meeting-007
Coupled groundwater and surface water modelling to visualise lake extent and total terrestrial water storage under a changing climate
Large-scale flow-routing algorithms efficiently route water to the ocean, neglecting both inland basins that may be able to form lakes and changing groundwater storage. We add these elements of reality in a simplified and computationally-efficient way, combining groundwater and surface-water routing to simulate changing groundwater levels, surface-water flow pathways, and lake locations and extents through time. The groundwater component is based upon a linear-diffusive model for an unconfined aquifer developed by Reinfelder et al (2013), and surface water is routed through a simple downslope-flow algorithm that differs from most flow-routing algorithms in that it takes into account the elevation of the water surface, and not just the land surface. Our model requires as inputs topography, climatic data (P-ET and winter temperature), and an approximation of hydraulic conductivity based on topographic slope and mapped soils. The model outputs grids of depth to water table and thickness of surface water; the latter depicts any lakes that would form under the topographic and climatic conditions. The model can be run to equilibrium, or, if a starting depth to water table input is provided, for any user-selected length of time. Such solutions are transient only with respect to groundwater movement: surface-water flow is significantly faster, so it is always run to equilibrium. The model allows infiltration when surface water flows across cells that are not fully saturated in the groundwater, and it allows exfiltration and the formation of groundwater-fed lakes where convergent groundwater flow raises the water table above the land surface.
We show sample results from this model on a test area. Future work using this model will include global runs since the Last Glacial Maximum, with ground truthing possible using past lake shoreline data. Changing depth to water table plus the surface water storage computed using this model allows computation of changing terrestrial water storage volume through time.