Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Research article
18 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 18 Dec 2012

Coupling a groundwater model with a land surface model to improve water and energy cycle simulation

W. Tian, X. Li, G.-D. Cheng, X.-S. Wang, and B. X. Hu

Abstract. Water and energy cycles interact, making these two processes closely related. Land surface models (LSMs) can describe the water and energy cycles on the land surface, but their description of the subsurface water processes is oversimplified, and lateral groundwater flow is ignored. Groundwater models (GWMs) describe the dynamic movement of the subsurface water well, but they cannot depict the physical mechanisms of the evapotranspiration (ET) process in detail. In this study, a coupled model of groundwater flow with a simple biosphere (GWSiB) is developed based on the full coupling of a typical land surface model (SiB2) and a 3-D variably saturated groundwater model (AquiferFlow). In this coupled model, the infiltration, ET and energy transfer are simulated by SiB2 using the soil moisture results from the groundwater flow model. The infiltration and ET results are applied iteratively to drive the groundwater flow model. After the coupled model is built, a sensitivity test is first performed, and the effect of the groundwater depth and the hydraulic conductivity parameters on the ET are analyzed. The coupled model is then validated using measurements from two stations located in shallow and deep groundwater depth zones. Finally, the coupled model is applied to data from the middle reach of the Heihe River basin in the northwest of China to test the regional simulation capabilities of the model.