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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-252
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-252
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  06 Jul 2020

06 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Unsaturated zone model complexity for the assimilation of evapotranspiration rates in groundwater modeling

Simone Gelsinari1,2, Valentijn R. N. Pauwels1, Edoardo Daly1, Jos van Dam3, Remko Uijlenhoet4, and Rebecca Doble2 Simone Gelsinari et al.
  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  • 2CSIRO Land and Water, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, South Australia, Australia
  • 3Soil physics and Land Management, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 4Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Abstract. The bio-physical processes occurring in the unsaturated zone have a direct impact on the water table dynamics. Conceptual models, with a simplified representation of the unsaturated zone dynamics, are often selected for coupling to groundwater models, while physically-based models are widely used, particularly at the field scale, for an accurate representation of the water transport. The recharge rates estimated by these Unsaturated Zone Models (UZMs) can then be used as input for groundwater models. Because recharge estimates are always affected by uncertainty, model-data fusion methods, such as data assimilation, can be used to reduce the uncertainty in the model results. In this study, the required complexity (i.e. conceptual versus physically-based) of the unsaturated zone model to update groundwater models through the assimilation of evapotranspiration (ET) rates is assessed for a water-limited site in South Australia. ET rates are assimilated because they have been shown to be related to the groundwater table dynamics, and thus form the link between remote sensing data and the deeper parts of the soil profile. It has been found that, under the test site conditions, a conceptual UZM can be used to improve groundwater model results through the assimilation of ET rates.

Simone Gelsinari et al.

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Simone Gelsinari et al.

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Latest update: 25 Oct 2020
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Short summary
Estimates of recharge to groundwater are often driven by biophysical processes occurring in the soil column and, particularly in remote areas, are also always affected by uncertainty. Use data assimilation techniques to merge remotely sensed observations with outputs of numerical models is one way to reduce this uncertainty. Here, we show the benefits of using such a technique with satellite evapotranspiration rates and coupled hydrogeological models applied to a semi-arid site in Australia.
Estimates of recharge to groundwater are often driven by biophysical processes occurring in the...
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