Modelling of shallow water table dynamics using conceptual and physically based integrated surface-water–groundwater hydrologic models

Bizhanimanzar, Mohammad; Leconte, Robert; Nuth, Mathieu

We present a new conceptual scheme of the interaction between unsaturated and saturated zones of the MOBIDIC (MOdello Bilancio Idrologico DIstributo e Continuo) hydrological model which is applicable to shallow water table conditions. First, MODFLOW was coupled to MOBIDIC as the physically based alternative to the conceptual groundwater component of the MOBIDIC–MODFLOW. Then, assuming a hydrostatic equilibrium moisture profile in the unsaturated zone, a dynamic specific yield that is dependent on the water table level was added to MOBIDIC–MODFLOW, and calculation of the groundwater recharge in MOBIDIC was revisited using a power-type equation based on the infiltration rate, soil moisture deficit, and a calibration parameter linked to the initial water table depth, soil type, and rainfall intensity. Using the water table fluctuation (WTF) method for a homogeneous soil column, the parameter of the proposed groundwater recharge equation was determined for four soil types, i.e. sand, loamy sand, sandy loam, and loam under a pulse of rain with different intensities. The fidelity of the introduced modifications in MOBIDIC–MODFLOW was assessed by comparison of the simulated water tables against those of MIKE SHE, a physically based integrated hydrological modelling system simulating surface and groundwater flow, in two numerical experiments: a two-dimensional case of a hypothetical watershed in a vertical plane (constant slope) under a 1 cm d−1 uniform rainfall rate and a quasi-real three-dimensional watershed under 1 month of a measured daily rainfall hyetograph. The comparative analysis confirmed that the simplified approach can mimic simple and complex groundwater systems with an acceptable level of accuracy. In addition, the computational efficiency of the proposed approach (MIKE SHE took 180 times longer to solve the three-dimensional case than the MOBIDIC–MODFLOW framework) demonstrates its applicability to real catchment case studies.

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Bizhanimanzar, Mohammad / Leconte, Robert / Nuth, Mathieu: Modelling of shallow water table dynamics using conceptual and physically based integrated surface-water–groundwater hydrologic models. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Mohammad Bizhanimanzar et al.

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