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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"Combination of soil-water balance models and water table fluctuation methods for improvement and validation of groundwater recharge calculations"

Despite a long history of related research, quantifying recharge is still a major challenge, and the validation of groundwater recharge estimates remains difficult. The combination and comparison of conceptually different methods has been recommended as an estimate validation strategy. In this article, recharge estimates from Water Table Fluctuation (WTF) methods are combined with and compared to the results of the spatially- and temporally-discretized soil water balance model PROMET (Processes of Radiation, Mass and Energy Transfer; Mauser and Bach 2009). Using PROMET and the WTF-method in combination allows the comparison of different measurable variables for cross-validation and plausibility checks. An enhanced approach to the WTF-method has been developed which assumes that in the case of no recharge, there exists a maximum possible potential decline for any given groundwater level. The primary conclusion is that WTF-methods are an excellent option for determining the plausibility of spatially-distributed, regional groundwater recharge estimation approaches and for detecting inconsistencies in available models. Recharge estimates derived from WTF approaches alone are, however, not suitable for regional-scale recharge estimation due to their strong dependency on local data, applicability which is limited to only very specific conditions, and their sensitivity to groundwater level influences other than recharge.