A comprehensive quasi-3-D model for regional-scale unsaturated–saturated water flow
For computationally efficient modeling of unsaturated–saturated flow in regional scales, the quasi-three-dimensional (3-D) scheme that considers one-dimensional (1-D) soil water flow and 3-D groundwater flow is an alternative method. However, it is still practically challenging for regional-scale problems due to the highly nonlinear and intensive input data needed for soil water modeling and the reliability of the coupling scheme. This study developed a new quasi-3-D model coupled to the UBMOD 1-D soil water balance model with the MODFLOW 3-D hydrodynamic model. A new implementation method of the iterative scheme was developed in which the vertical net recharge and unsaturated zone depth were used as the exchange information. A modeling framework was developed to organize the coupling scheme of the soil water model and the groundwater model and to handle the pre- and post-processing information. The strength and weakness of the coupled model were evaluated by using two published studies. The comparison results show that the coupled model is satisfactory in terms of computational accuracy and mass balance error. The influences of spatial and temporal discretization as well as the stress period on the model accuracy were discussed. Additionally, the coupled model was used to evaluate groundwater recharge in a real-world study. The measured groundwater table and soil water content were used to calibrate the model parameters, and the groundwater recharge data from a 2-year tracer experiment were used to evaluate the recharge estimation. The field application further shows the practicability of the model. The developed model and the modeling framework provide a convenient and flexible tool for evaluating unsaturated–saturated flow systems at the regional scale.