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Combination of soil-water balance models and water-table fluctuation methods for evaluation and improvement of groundwater recharge calculations

Journal article
Authors Z. Jie
J. van Heyden
D. Bendel
Roland Barthel
Published in Hydrogeology Journal
Volume 19
Issue 8
Pages 1487-1502
ISSN 1431-2174
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1487-1502
Language en
Keywords groundwater recharge/water budget, water-table fluctuation (wtf) method, groundwater level time series, germany, groundwater monitoring, resources management, glowa-danube, USA, scale, pennsylvania, catchments, framework
Subject categories Water in nature and society


Despite a long history of related research, quantifying and verifying recharge is still a major challenge. The combination and comparison of conceptually different methods has been recommended as a strategy for evaluating recharge estimates. In this article, recharge estimates from water-table fluctuation (WTF) methods are combined with and compared to the results of the spatially and temporally discretized soil-water-balance model PROMET (processes of radiation, mass and energy transfer). As PROMET and WTF methods rely on different measurable variables, a comparison of these two contrasting techniques allows improved assessment of the plausibility of recharge estimates. An enhanced approach to WTF methods is presented. The approach assumes that in the case of no recharge, there exists a maximum possible potential decline for any given groundwater level. The primary conclusion is that WTF methods are excellent for determining the plausibility of spatially distributed regional-groundwater-recharge estimation approaches and for detecting inconsistencies in available models. Recharge estimates derived from WTF approaches alone are, however, not suitable for regional-scale recharge estimation due to (1) their strong dependency on local data, applicability of which is limited to only very specific conditions, and (2) their sensitivity to influences other than recharge.

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