Reducing the spin-up time of surface water - groundwater models

Posted 16 December 2014

A new method can improve the efficiency of modelling surface water - groundwater interactions. Image: NASA.

CWI researchers have devised a new method that increases the efficiency of modelling surface water - groundwater interactions.

One of the main challenges in the application of coupled or integrated hydrologic models, in which simulate conditions in which surface water and groundwater interact, is determining the initial conditions of the system. These conditions include soil moisture and depth-to-water table distributions.

Normally, these initial conditions are set by processing large datasets over long periods of simulated time. This 'spin-up' procedure can require significant resources in terms of computing power and time.

A new hybrid approach has been developed to reduce the computational burden of the spin-up procedure by using a combination of model simulations and an empirical depth-to-water table function.

Dr Hoori Ajami (CWI) has tested this approach on two contrasting catchments, one being the Baldry long-term monitoring site at Wellington, NSW, and supported by the NCRIS Groundwater Infrastructure program.

The results show that the hybrid approach reduced the spin-up period required for an integrated groundwater-surface water-land surface model (ParFlow.CLM) by up to 50%.

This approach is applicable to other coupled or integrated modelling frameworks when initialization from an equilibrium state is required.

The paper is open access and available for download at: http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/18/5169/2014/

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