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The influence of groundwater representation on hydrological simulation and its assessment using satellite‐based water storage variation

Huang, Zhongwei, Tang, Qiuhong, Lo, Min‐Hui, Liu, Xingcai, Lu, Hui, Zhang, Xuejun, Leng, Guoyong
Hydrological processes 2019 v.33 no.8 pp. 1218-1230
autumn, biosphere, climate, evapotranspiration, groundwater, models, river flow, runoff, satellites, soil water, spring, surface water, water storage, watersheds, wet season, China, Yellow River
The interaction between surface water and groundwater is an important aspect of hydrological processes. Despite its importance, groundwater is not well represented in many land surface models. In this study, a groundwater module with consideration of surface water and groundwater dynamic interactions is incorporated into the distributed biosphere hydrological (DBH) model in the upstream of the Yellow River basin, China. Two numerical experiments are conducted using the DBH model: one with groundwater module active, namely, DBH_GW and the other without, namely, DBH_NGW. Simulations by two experiments are compared with observed river discharge and terrestrial water storage (TWS) variation from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). The results show that river discharge during the low flow season that is underestimated in the DBH_NGW has been improved by incorporating the groundwater scheme. As for the TWS, simulation in DBH_GW shows better agreement with GRACE data in terms of interannual and intraseasonal variations and annual changing trend. Furthermore, compared with DBH_GW, TWS simulated in DBH_NGW shows smaller decreases during autumn and smaller increases in spring. These results suggest that consideration of groundwater dynamics enables a more reasonable representation of TWS change by increasing TWS amplitudes and signals and as a consequence, improves river discharge simulation in the low flow seasons when groundwater is a major component in runoff. Additionally, incorporation of groundwater module also leads to wetter soil moisture and higher evapotranspiration, especially in the wet seasons.