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Title: Combined impacts of uncertainty in precipitation and air temperature on simulated mountain system recharge from an integrated hydrologic model
Abstract. Mountainous regions act as the water towers of the worldby producing streamflow and groundwater recharge, a function that isparticularly important in semiarid regions. Quantifying rates of mountainsystem recharge is difficult, and hydrologic models offer a method toestimate recharge over large scales. These recharge estimates are prone touncertainty from various sources including model structure and parameters.The quality of meteorological forcing datasets, particularly in mountainousregions, is a large source of uncertainty that is often neglected ingroundwater investigations. In this contribution, we quantify the impact ofuncertainty in both precipitation and air temperature forcing datasets onthe simulated groundwater recharge in the mountainous watershed of theKaweah River in California, USA. We make use of the integrated surface water–groundwater model, ParFlow.CLM, and several gridded datasets commonly usedin hydrologic studies, downscaled NLDAS-2, PRISM, Daymet, Gridmet, andTopoWx. Simulations indicate that, across all forcing datasets, mountain front recharge is an important component of the water budget in themountainous watershed, accounting for 9 %–72 % of the annual precipitation and ∼90 % of the total mountain system recharge to theadjacent Central Valley aquifer. The uncertainty in gridded air temperatureor precipitation datasets, when assessed individually, results in similarranges of uncertainty in the simulated water budget. Variations in simulatedrecharge to changes in precipitation (elasticities) more » and air temperature(sensitivities) are larger than 1 % change in recharge per 1 % change inprecipitation or 1 ∘C change in temperature. The total volume ofsnowmelt is the primary factor creating the high water budget sensitivity, and snowmelt volume is influenced by both precipitation and air temperatureforcings. The combined effect of uncertainty in air temperature andprecipitation on recharge is additive and results in uncertainty levels roughly equal to the sum of the individual uncertainties depending on thehydroclimatic condition of the watershed. Mountain system recharge pathwaysincluding mountain block recharge, mountain aquifer recharge, and mountainfront recharge are less sensitive to changes in air temperature than changesin precipitation. Mountain front and mountain block recharge are moresensitive to changes in precipitation than other recharge pathways. Themagnitude of uncertainty in the simulated water budget reflects theimportance of developing high-quality meteorological forcing datasets in mountainous regions. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1145 to 1164
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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