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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coupling a three-dimensional subsurface flow and transport model with a land surface model to simulate stream-aquifer-land interactions (CP v1.0)

  • Author(s): Bisht, G
  • Huang, M
  • Zhou, T
  • Chen, X
  • Dai, H
  • Hammond, GE
  • Riley, WJ
  • Downs, JL
  • Liu, Y
  • Zachara, JM
  • et al.

© 2017 Author(s). A fully coupled three-dimensional surface and subsurface land model is developed and applied to a site along the Columbia River to simulate three-way interactions among river water, groundwater, and land surface processes. The model features the coupling of the Community Land Model version 4.5 (CLM4.5) and a massively parallel multiphysics reactive transport model (PFLOTRAN). The coupled model, named CP v1.0, is applied to a 400 m × 400 m study domain instrumented with groundwater monitoring wells along the Columbia River shoreline. CP v1.0 simulations are performed at three spatial resolutions (i.e., 2, 10, and 20 m) over a 5-year period to evaluate the impact of hydroclimatic conditions and spatial resolution on simulated variables. Results show that the coupled model is capable of simulating groundwater-river-water interactions driven by river stage variability along managed river reaches, which are of global significance as a result of over 30 000 dams constructed worldwide during the past half-century. Our numerical experiments suggest that the land-surface energy partitioning is strongly modulated by groundwater-river-water interactions through expanding the periodically inundated fraction of the riparian zone, and enhancing moisture availability in the vadose zone via capillary rise in response to the river stage change. Meanwhile, CLM4.5 fails to capture the key hydrologic process (i.e., groundwater-river-water exchange) at the site, and consequently simulates drastically different water and energy budgets. Furthermore, spatial resolution is found to significantly impact the accuracy of estimated the mass exchange rates at the boundaries of the aquifer, and it becomes critical when surface and subsurface become more tightly coupled with groundwater table within 6 to 7 meters below the surface. Inclusion of lateral subsurface flow influenced both the surface energy budget and subsurface transport processes as a result of river-water intrusion into the subsurface in response to an elevated river stage that increased soil moisture for evapotranspiration and suppressed available energy for sensible heat in the warm season. The coupled model developed in this study can be used for improving mechanistic understanding of ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycling along river corridors under historical and future hydroclimatic changes. The dataset presented in this study can also serve as a good benchmarking case for testing other integrated models.

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