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Modeling surface water–groundwater interaction in New Zealand: Model development and application

Yang, Jing, McMillan, Hilary, Zammit, Christian
Hydrological processes 2017 v.31 no.4 pp. 925-934
alluvial plains, aquifers, deserts, groundwater, groundwater flow, hydrologic models, mountains, rivers, simulation models, watersheds, New Zealand
Most rivers worldwide have a strong interaction with groundwater when they leave the mountains and flow over alluvial plains before flowing into the seas or disappearing in the deserts, and in New Zealand, typically, rivers lose water to the groundwater in the upper plains and generally gain water from the groundwater in the lower plains. Aiming at simulating surface water–groundwater interaction nationally in New Zealand, we developed a conceptual groundwater module for the national hydrologic model TopNet to simulate surface water–groundwater interaction, groundwater flow, and intercatchment groundwater flow. The developed model was applied to the Pareora catchment in South Island of New Zealand, where there are concurrent spot gauged flows. Results show that the model simulations not only fit quite well to flow measurement but also to concurrent spot gauged flows, and compared to the original TopNet, it has a significant improvement in the low flows. Sensitivity analysis shows river flow is sensitive to the river losing/gaining rate instead of groundwater characteristic, while groundwater storage is sensitive to both river losing/gaining rate and groundwater characteristic. This indicates our conceptual approach is promising for nationwide modeling without the large amount of geology and aquifer data typically required by physically‐based modeling approaches.