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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-155
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-155
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Apr 2019

Research article | 30 Apr 2019

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

Modeling groundwater responses to climate change in the Prairie Pothole Region

Zhe Zhang1, Yanping Li1, Michael Barlage2, Fei Chen2, Gonzalo Miguez-Macho3, Andrew Ireson1, and Zhenhua Li1 Zhe Zhang et al.
  • 1Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
  • 2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 3Nonlinear Physic Group, Faculty of Physics, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Abstract. Shallow groundwater in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is recharged predominantly by snowmelt in the spring and may supply water for evapotranspiration through the summer/fall. This two-way exchange is underrepresented in land-surface models. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change on the groundwater recharge are uncertain. In this paper, we use a coupled land and groundwater model to investigate the hydrologic cycle of shallow groundwater in the PPR and study its response to climate change at the end of the 21st century. The results show that the model reasonably simulates the water table depth (WTD) and the timing of recharge processes, but underestimates the seasonal variation of WTD, due to mismatches of the soil types between observations and the model. The most significant change under future climate occurs in the winter, when the warmer temperature changes the rain/snow partitioning, delay the time for snow accumulation/soil freezing while bringing forward early melting/thawing. Such changes lead to an earlier start to a longer recharge season, but with lower recharge rates. Different signals are shown in the eastern and western PPR in the future summer, with reduced precipitation and drier soils in the east but little change in the west. The annual recharge increased by 25% and 50% in the eastern and western PPR, respectively. Additionally, we found the mean and seasonal variation of the simulated WTD are sensitive to soil properties and fine-scale soil information is needed to improve groundwater simulation on a regional scale.

Zhe Zhang et al.
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Short summary
The groundwater regime in cold regions is strongly impacted by the soil freeze-thaw processes and semi-arid climatic conditions. In this paper, we incorporate groundwater dynamics in Noah-MP land surface model to simulate the water exchange between the unsaturated soil zone and an unconfined aquifer in the Prairie Pothole Region. The water table dynamics are reasonably simulated. And the water budget of groundwater aquifer under current and future climate are investigated.
The groundwater regime in cold regions is strongly impacted by the soil freeze-thaw processes...
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