27 Mar 2023
 | 27 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

On the optimal level of complexity for the representation of wetland systems in land surface models

Mennatullah Tarek Elrashidy, Andrew Ireson, and Saman Razavi

Abstract. Wetland systems are among the largest stores of carbon on the planet, most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, and dominant controls of the hydrologic cycle. However, their representation in land surface models (LSMs), which are the terrestrial lower boundary of Earth system models (ESMs) that inform climate actions, is limited. Here, we explore different possible parametrizations to represent wetland-groundwater-upland interactions with varying levels of system and computational complexity. We perform a series of numerical experiments that are informed by field observations from wetlands in the well-instrumented White Gull Creek in Saskatchewan, in the boreal region of North America. We show that the typical representation of wetlands in LSMs, which ignores interactions with groundwater and uplands, can be inadequate. We show that the optimal level of model complexity depends on the land cover, soil type, and the ultimate modelling purpose, being nowcasting and prediction, scenario analysis, or diagnostic learning.

Mennatullah Tarek Elrashidy et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2023-68', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2023-68', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 May 2023

Mennatullah Tarek Elrashidy et al.

Mennatullah Tarek Elrashidy et al.


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Short summary
Wetlands are important ecosystems that store carbon and play a vital role in the water cycle. However, hydrological computer models do not always represent wetlands and their interaction with groundwater accurately. We tested different possible ways to include groundwater-wetlands interactions in these models. We found that the optimal method to include wetlands and groundwater in the models is reliant on the intended use of the models and the characteristics of the land and soil being studied.