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From points to patterns: using groundwater time series clustering to investigate subsurface hydrological connectivity and runoff source area dynamics


Rinderer, Michael; van Meerveld, H J; McGlynn, B L (2019). From points to patterns: using groundwater time series clustering to investigate subsurface hydrological connectivity and runoff source area dynamics. Water Resources Research, 55(7):5784-5806.

Abstract

Groundwater levels are typically measured at only a limited number of points in a catchment. Thus, upscaling these point measurements to the catchment scale is necessary to determine subsurface flow paths and runoff source areas. Here we present a data‐driven approach composed of time series clustering and topography‐based upscaling of shallow, perched groundwater dynamics using groundwater data from 51 monitoring sites in a 20‐ha prealpine headwater catchment in Switzerland. The agreement between the upscaled (modeled) and measured groundwater dynamics was strong for most of the 19‐month study period for the upslope and footslope locations but weaker at the beginning of events and for the midslope locations. However, these differences between measured and modeled groundwater levels did not significantly affect modeled groundwater activation, that is, the time when groundwater levels were within the more transmissive soil layers near the soil surface. The resulting groundwater activation maps represent the groundwater response across the catchment and highlight the dynamic expansion and contraction of the subsurface runoff source areas, particularly along the channel network. This is in agreement with the variable source area concept. However, there were also isolated active zones that did not get connected to the stream during rainfall events, highlighting the need to distinguish between variable active and variable stream‐connected runoff source areas. Our data‐driven approach to upscale point measurements of shallow groundwater levels appears useful for studying catchment‐scale variations in groundwater storage and connectivity and thus may help to better understand runoff generation in mountain catchments.

Abstract

Groundwater levels are typically measured at only a limited number of points in a catchment. Thus, upscaling these point measurements to the catchment scale is necessary to determine subsurface flow paths and runoff source areas. Here we present a data‐driven approach composed of time series clustering and topography‐based upscaling of shallow, perched groundwater dynamics using groundwater data from 51 monitoring sites in a 20‐ha prealpine headwater catchment in Switzerland. The agreement between the upscaled (modeled) and measured groundwater dynamics was strong for most of the 19‐month study period for the upslope and footslope locations but weaker at the beginning of events and for the midslope locations. However, these differences between measured and modeled groundwater levels did not significantly affect modeled groundwater activation, that is, the time when groundwater levels were within the more transmissive soil layers near the soil surface. The resulting groundwater activation maps represent the groundwater response across the catchment and highlight the dynamic expansion and contraction of the subsurface runoff source areas, particularly along the channel network. This is in agreement with the variable source area concept. However, there were also isolated active zones that did not get connected to the stream during rainfall events, highlighting the need to distinguish between variable active and variable stream‐connected runoff source areas. Our data‐driven approach to upscale point measurements of shallow groundwater levels appears useful for studying catchment‐scale variations in groundwater storage and connectivity and thus may help to better understand runoff generation in mountain catchments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:1 July 2019
Deposited On:18 Dec 2019 14:06
Last Modified:19 Jan 2020 01:00
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0043-1397
Additional Information:An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright (2019) American Geophysical Union.
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1029/2018wr023886
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDP2ZHP2_158591
  • : Project TitleInvestigating Catchment Runoff Response by Assessing Spatial Patterns of Groundwater Dynamics

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