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Controls and Impact of Geologic Heterogeneity and Temporal Dynamics in Surface Water Groundwater Interaction

Applicant Brunner Philip
Number 126415
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Centre d'hydrogéologie et de géothermie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.02.2010 - 31.01.2013
Approved amount 429'500.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Geology

Keywords (6)

Hydrology; Surface water groundwater interaction; Numerical modelling; Heterogeneity; Stochastic hydrology; Sustainable water management

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Our research focuses on a central yet unresolved issue of surface water groundwater interaction: heterogeneity of the streambed and its impact on the dynamics of flow and the transport of solutes. To increase our understanding in this field, we build on latest methods to generate highly realistic streambeds, and simulate the dynamics of flow and transport, using one of the most advanced numerical models currently available.

Background: The state of our environment is critically dependent on our most valuable resource, water. The current state of science in the field of hydrology, and the interaction between surface water and groundwater in particular, strongly suggests that our understanding, our tools and methods are insufficient for the sustainable development of our water resources. The major unresolved challenge is the influence of streambed and aquifer heterogeneity on various scales. Geologic heterogeneity can manifest itself, for example, in groundwater flow speeds that vary by several orders of magnitude within a very short spatial distance. Understanding how heterogeneity controls the physics of the water and solute exchanges is urgently required to advance sustainable water management.

Methods and Goals: To make a significant advance in this field, we are using the latest developments in multiple-point statistics to generate highly realistic streambed and aquifer heterogeneity and investigate their impact using HydroGeoSphere, one of the most advanced numerical models. The combination of these tools with high-performance computing technology will allow for the first time a systematic analysis of the impact of realistic heterogeneity on stream aquifer exchanges. We use synthetic models to study how geologic and temporal complexity affects the surface water groundwater interaction and will analyse to what degree complex geology and the conceptual model can be simplified. We will also model well documented, real world examples to test the general applicability of results obtained with our synthetic models. The project sites are located in Australia (The Murray River), Switzerland (the Rhône) and in China (the Tarim River in Western China).

Impact: An increased understanding of the influence of heterogeneity on surface water groundwater interaction will provide modellers with better tools to make sound decisions on conceptual complexity. Besides the technical advances in numerical modelling, our research will allow the advance of the physical understanding of catchment hydrology, which will result in a direct impact on the development and application of management strategies.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
An Analysis of River Bank Slope and Unsaturated Flow Effects on Bank Storage
Doble R, Brunner P, McCallum J, Cook PG (2012), An Analysis of River Bank Slope and Unsaturated Flow Effects on Bank Storage, in GROUND WATER, 50(1), 77-86.
Aquifer response to surface water transience in disconnected streams
Shanafield M, Cook PG, Brunner P, McCallum J, Simmons CT (2012), Aquifer response to surface water transience in disconnected streams, in WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH , 48( W11510), 1-8.
Uncertainty assessment and implications for data acquisition in support of integrated hydrologic models
Brunner P, Doherty J, Simmons CT (2012), Uncertainty assessment and implications for data acquisition in support of integrated hydrologic models, in WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, 48, 1-18.
A hydraulic mixing-cell method to quantify the groundwater component of streamflow within spatially distributed fully integrated surface water-groundwater flow models
Partington D, Brunner P, Simmons CT, Therrien R, Werner AD, Dandy GC, Maier HR (2011), A hydraulic mixing-cell method to quantify the groundwater component of streamflow within spatially distributed fully integrated surface water-groundwater flow models, in ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING & SOFTWARE, 26(7), 886-898.
Disconnected Surface Water and Groundwater: From Theory to Practice
Brunner P, Cook PG, Simmons CT (2011), Disconnected Surface Water and Groundwater: From Theory to Practice, in GROUND WATER, 49(4), 460-467.
Vegetation controls on variably saturated processes between surface water and groundwater and their impact on the state of connection
Banks EW, Brunner P, Simmons CT (2011), Vegetation controls on variably saturated processes between surface water and groundwater and their impact on the state of connection, in WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, 47, 11517-11531.
Modeling Surface Water-Groundwater Interaction with MODFLOW: Some Considerations
Brunner P, Simmons CT, Cook PG, Therrien R (2010), Modeling Surface Water-Groundwater Interaction with MODFLOW: Some Considerations, in GROUND WATER, 48(2), 174-180.
Evaluation of outputs from automated baseflow separation methods against simulated baseflow from a physically based, surface water-groundwater flow model
Partington D, Brunner P, Simmons CT, Werner AD, Therrien R, Maier HR, Dandy GC, Evaluation of outputs from automated baseflow separation methods against simulated baseflow from a physically based, surface water-groundwater flow model, in Journal of Hydrology, 458, 28-29.
Field assessment of surface water - groundwater connectivity in a semi-arid river basin (Murray-Darling, Australia)
Lamontagne S, Taylor A.R., Cook P.G., Crosbie R.S., Brownbill R., Williams R.M., Brunnerm P., Field assessment of surface water - groundwater connectivity in a semi-arid river basin (Murray-Darling, Australia), in Hydrological Processes.
Heterogeneous or homogeneous? Implications of simplifying heterogeneous streambeds in models of losing streams
Irvine D., Brunner P., Hendricks Franssen Harrie-Jan, Simmons C.T., Heterogeneous or homogeneous? Implications of simplifying heterogeneous streambeds in models of losing streams, in Journal of Hydrology, 424–425, 16-23.
HydroGeoSphere: A Fully Integrated, Physically Based Hydrological Model
Brunner Philip, Simmones C.T., HydroGeoSphere: A Fully Integrated, Physically Based Hydrological Model, in Ground Water, in press(in press), 1-10.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Laval University Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
NCGRT Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Agroscope, Reckenholz Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
Universität Hannover Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
UFZ Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Sixth IAHR International Groundwater Symposium, Kuwait, 19 - 21 November, 2012 Talk given at a conference Physically based modeling in surface water-groundwater interaction: How numerical tools help understand hydrological processes. 19.11.2012 Kuwait City, Kuwait Brunner Philip;
9th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Implications of simplifying heterogeneous streambeds in models simulating surface water groundwater interactions 11.11.2011 Zürich, Switzerland Brunner Philip;
2011 GSA Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference To what extent does the degree of meaningful model complexity depend on observation data? 09.10.2011 Minneapolis, USA, United States of America Brunner Philip;
EGU 2011 Talk given at a conference How useful are head observations for constraining vadose zone models? 03.04.2011 Vienna, Austria Brunner Philip;
2nd International HydroGeoSphere User Conference Talk given at a conference sing HydroGeoSphere to quantify the in uence of streambed heterogeneity on surface-water groundwater interaction. 11.03.2011 Hannover, Germany, Germany Brunner Philip;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
3rd International HydroGeoSphere User Conference 03.04.2013 Neuchatel, Switzerland
Collaboration between UniNe- NCGRT Australia 13.09.2012 Neuchatel, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Pest course in Neuchâtel 05.09.2011 Neuchatel, Switzerland

Awards

Title Year
Journal of Hydrology Referees Award: ”Certificate of excellence” 2013

Abstract

Our research focuses on a central yet unresolved issue of surface water groundwater interaction: heterogeneity of the streambed and its impact on the dynamics of flow and the transport of solutes. Surface water groundwater interaction can be largely controlled by heterogeneity and understanding this control is an urgently required and important step to advance sustainable water management. Recent developments in numerical models as well as progress in characterizing streambed heterogeneity make a systematic analysis of the impact of heterogeneity in surface water groundwater interaction possible for the first time. By using the latest tools available and co-operating with world leading experts in the field, we will take first steps to resolve identified knowledge gaps. The state of our environment is critically dependent on our most valuable resource, water. A rigorous quantitative analysis is required to manage water resources amid an ever-increasing water demand. The state of current science in the field of hydrology, and the interaction between surface water and groundwater in particular strongly suggests that our understanding, our tools and methods are insufficient for the sustainable development of our water resources. One of the major unresolved challenges in this field of science is the way geologic heterogeneity and temporal dynamics affect surface water groundwater interaction. Geologic heterogeneity can manifest itself, for example, in groundwater flow speeds that vary by several orders of magnitude within a very short spatial distance. These variations, resulting from the underlying heterogeneities, have a very important impact on the flow of water as well as on the transport of solutes and contaminants. Most modelling approaches do not account for such complexities even though methods to quantify and represent heterogeneity are available. It appears that the potential of including data on spatial heterogeneity in numerical models has so far not been fully utilized. This view has been reinforced by numerous papers presented in a recent theme issue of Hydrogeology Journal (Voss, 2005) that examines the state of current hydrogeology and its pressing future needs. Simplifications are also made in the conceptualization of the processes (e.g. the coupling between surface water and groundwater). Even though geologic complexity is largely ignored and simplified conceptual approaches commonly applied, a systematic analysis on the influence of these simplifications has so far not been carried out. The reason is because until recently no models were available to account for such complexity and therefore the tools to evaluate such simplifications were not available. The goal of this project is to take first steps to include well characterized heterogeneity of sediments of rivers and aquifers in fully coupled surface water groundwater models. We will use one of the most powerful numerical tools available (HydroGeoSphere). HydroGeoSphere is based on a physical coupling between the two compartments and is fully capable of including any degree of geologic or temporal complexity. We will use this model to study the impact of documented and stochastic representations of heterogeneity of the streambed and the aquifer on the interaction of surface water and groundwater. We will apply Monte-Carlo simulations to investigate the effect of many realizations of heterogeneity on a statistical basis. By using synthetic models we can study how geologic and temporal complexity affects the surface water groundwater interaction in terms of water and solutes and will analyse to what degree complex geology and the conceptual model can be simplified. Such an analysis is urgently required because it directly determines the amount of data needed to adequately set up a model. We will also model real world examples to test the general applicability of results obtained with our synthetic models. We will consider a well documented field site located in Australia, and if time permits in China. Also, our work can directly be applied to a previously funded PhD project in the host institute. This PhD project itself is highly relevant for the Swiss National Project of the third correction of the Rhône River. We have chosen these particular sites because geological and temporal complexities are expected to be controlling factors. Because these sites are very well documented, they present a unique opportunity to study the impact of simplification in both forward and inverse modelling of surface water groundwater interaction. Dr. Brunner will collaborate with a team of renowned international hydrogeologists. Philippe Renard is a professor at the University of Neuchâtel and will host this project. He is a world leading expert in the field of spatial heterogeneity. His expertise on how to characterize and generate geologic complexity is of crucial importance to this project. The chief investigators of the field sites, Prof. Craig Simmons (Flinders University, Australia) and Prof. Xinguan Dong (Xinjiang Agricultural University, China) are also collaborators on this project. Finally, Prof. René Therrien (University of Laval, Quebec), the developer of HydroGeoSphere, is also a collaborator in this proposal. This project builds on a considerable amount of available methods, available field data, professional skills and experience as well as on a functioning and highly productive scientific network. Dr. Brunner has already worked and published together with Prof. Simmons, Prof. Dong and Prof. Therrien. The scientific team will allow the delivery of the important new outcomes within the period of three years.
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