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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"Common problematic aspects of coupling hydrological models with groundwater flow models on the river catchment scale"

Adv. Geosci., 9, 63-71, 2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Common problematic aspects of coupling hydrological models with groundwater flow models on the river catchment scale

R. Barthel
Institute for Hydraulic Engineering,
Universitaet Stuttgart, Germany

Abstract. Model coupling requires a thorough conceptualisation of the coupling strategy, including an exact definition of the individual model domains, the "transboundary" processes and the exchange parameters. It is shown here that in the case of coupling groundwater flow and hydrological models – in particular on the regional scale – it is very important to find a common definition and scale-appropriate process description of groundwater recharge and baseflow (or "groundwater runoff/discharge") in order to achieve a meaningful representation of the processes that link the unsaturated and saturated zones and the river network. As such, integration by means of coupling established disciplinary models is problematic given that in such models, processes are defined from a purpose-oriented, disciplinary perspective and are therefore not necessarily consistent with definitions of the same process in the model concepts of other disciplines. This article contains a general introdu! ction to the requirements and challenges of model coupling in Integrated Water Resources Management including a definition of the most relevant technical terms, a short description of the commonly used approach of model coupling and finally a detailed consideration of the role of groundwater recharge and baseflow in coupling groundwater models with hydrological models. The conclusions summarize the most relevant problems rather than giving practical solutions. This paper aims to point out that working on a large scale in an integrated context requires rethinking traditional disciplinary workflows and encouraging communication between the different disciplines involved. It is worth noting that the aspects discussed here are mainly viewed from a groundwater perspective, which reflects the author's background.