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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-185
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 May 2018

Research article | 14 May 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Estimating long-term groundwater storage and its controlling factors in cold regions

Soumendra N. Bhanja1, Xiaokun Zhang2, and Junye Wang1 Soumendra N. Bhanja et al.
  • 1Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI), Athabasca University, 1 University Drive, Athabasca, Alberta T9S 3A3, Canada
  • 2School of Computing & Information System, Athabasca University, 1 University Drive, Athabasca, Alberta T9S 3A3, Canada

Abstract. Groundwater is one of the most important natural resources for economic development and environmental sustainability. However, groundwater storage can be significantly affected by climate change through permafrost thaw, snowpack change, and glacier retreat in cold climate regions, and human activities due to over-use and over-extraction of resources. Therefore, it is very important to be able to estimate long-term groundwater storage for biodiversity and sustainable development. In this study, we estimated groundwater storage in 11 major river basins across Alberta, Canada using a combination of remote sensing (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-GRACE), in situ surface water data, and land surface modelling estimates (GWSAsat). We applied separate calculations for unconfined and confined aquifers, for the first time, to represent their hydrogeological differences. Storage coefficients for the individual wells were incorporated to compute the monthly GWSAobs. The GWSAsat from the two satellite-based products were compared with in situ groundwater storage (GWSAobs) estimates. The estimates of GWSAsat were in good agreement with the GWSAobs in terms of pattern and magnitude (e.g., RMSE ranged from 2 to 14cm). While comparing GWSAsat with GWSAsat, most of the statistical analyses provide mixed responses, however the Hodrick-Presscott trend analysis clearly showed a better performance of the GRACE-mascon estimate. The results showed trends of GWSAobs depletion in 5 of the 11 basins. Our results indicate that the precipitation played an important role in influencing the GWSAobs variation in 4 of the 11 basins studied. Water budget analysis showed an availability of comparatively lower terrestrial water in 9 of the 11 basins in the study period. Historical groundwater recharge estimates indicate a reduction of groundwater recharge in 8 basins during 1960–2009. The output of this study could be used to develop sustainable water withdrawal strategies in Alberta, Canada.

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The manuscript represents groundwater storage condition in all of the major river basins across Alberta, Canada. We used remote sensing data and investigate its performance using available ground-based data of groundwater level monitoring, storage coefficients, aquifer thickness and surface water measurements. The water available for groundwater recharge have been studied in detail. Separate approaches have been followed for confined and unconfined aquifers for estimating groundwater storage.
The manuscript represents groundwater storage condition in all of the major river basins across...
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