Groundwater-surface water interaction and the climatic spatial patterns of hillslope hydrological response
Abstract. A transient, mixed analytical-numerical model of hillslope hydrological behaviour is used to study the patterns of infiltration, evapotranspiration, recharge and lateral flow across hillslopes. Computational efficiency is achieved by treating infiltration and phreatic surface movement analytically. The influence of dynamic coupling of the saturated and unsaturated zones on the division of hillslopes into units of distinct hydrological behaviour is analyzed. The results indicate the importance of downhill groundwater flow on the lateral distribution of soil moisture and hydrological fluxes; unsaturated lateral flow is shown to be of relatively minor importance. For most conditions, the hillslope organizes itself into three distinct regions; an uphill recharge and a downhill discharge zone separated by a midline zone over which there is, on average, no recharge or discharge. A temporal perturbation analysis of the phreatic surface, made to quantify the deviations between the equivalent-steady water table derived by Salvucci and Entekhabi (1995) and the long-term mean water table, shows that the equivalent-steady water table effectively couples the unsaturated and saturated zone dynamics across storm and interstorm periods and divides the hillslope into distinct hydrological regions. The second order closure terms in the perturbation analysis, expressed as the gradient of water table variance, quantify the deviations and tend to make the hydrological zones relatively less distinct.