27 Aug 2020

27 Aug 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Estimating groundwater recharge from groundwater levels using non-linear transfer function noise models and comparison to lysimeter data

Raoul Collenteur1, Mark Bakker2, Gernot Klammler3, and Steffen Birk1 Raoul Collenteur et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Sciences, NAWI Graz Geocenter, University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 26, 8010 Graz, Austria
  • 2Water Management Department, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3JR-AquaConSol GMHB, Graz, Austria

Abstract. The application of non-linear transfer function noise (TFN) models using impulse response functions is explored to estimate groundwater recharge and simulate groundwater levels. A non-linear root zone model that simulates recharge is developed and implemented in a TFN model, and is compared to a more commonly used linear recharge model. An additional novel aspect of this study is the use of an autoregressive-moving average noise model so that the remaining noise fulfills the statistical conditions to reliably estimate parameter uncertainties and compute the confidence intervals of the recharge estimates. The models are calibrated on groundwater level data observed at the Wagna hydrological research station in the southeastern part of Austria. The non-linear model improves the simulation of groundwater levels compared to the linear model. The annual recharge rates estimated with the non-linear model are comparable to the average seepage rates observed with two lysimeters. The recharges estimates from the non-linear model are also in reasonably good agreement with the lysimeter data at the smaller time scale of recharge per 10 days. This is an improvement over the results from previous studies that used comparable methods, but only reported annual recharge rates. The presented framework requires limited input data (precipitation, potential evaporation, and groundwater levels) and can easily be extended to support applications in different hydrogeological settings than those presented here.

Raoul Collenteur et al.

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Raoul Collenteur et al.

Model code and software

Pastas v0.15 Raoul Collenteur, Mark Bakker, Ruben Caljé, and Frans Schaars

Raoul Collenteur et al.


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Short summary
This study explores the use of non-linear transfer function noise (TFN) models to simulate groundwater levels and estimate groundwater recharge from observed groundwater levels. A non-linear recharge model is implemented in a TFN model to compute the recharge. The estimated recharge rates are shown to be in good agreement with the recharge observed with a lysimeter present at the case study site in Austria. The method can be used to obtain groundwater recharge rates at sub-yearly time scales.