The influence of groundwater dynamics on the energy balance at the land surface is studied using an integrated, distributed watershed modeling platform. This model includes the mass and energy balance at the land surface; three-dimensional variably saturated subsurface flow; explicit representation of the water table; and overland flow. The model is applied to the Little Washita watershed in Central Oklahoma, USA and compared to runoff, soil moisture and energy flux observations. The connection between groundwater dynamics and the land surface energy balance is studied using a variety of conventional and spatial statistical measures. For a number of energy variables a strong interconnection is demonstrated with water table depth. This connection varies seasonally and spatially depending on the spatial composition of water table depth. A theoretical critical water table depth range is presented where a strong sensitivity between groundwater and land-surface processes may be observed. For this particular watershed, a critical depth range is established between 1 and 5 m in which the land surface energy budget is most sensitive to groundwater storage. Finally, concrete recommendations are put forth to characterize this interconnection in the field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology