The terrestrial hydrological system, including surface and subsurface water, is an essential component of the Earth's climate system. Over the past few decades, land surface modelers have built one-dimensional (1D) models resolving the vertical flow of water through the soil column for use in Earth system models (ESMs). These models generally have a relatively coarse model grid size (~25-100 km) and only account for sub-grid lateral hydrological variations using simple parameterization schemes. At the same time, hydrologists have developed detailed high-resolution (~0.1-10 km grid size) three dimensional (3D) models and showed the importance of accounting for the vertical and lateral redistribution of surface and subsurface water on soil moisture, the surface energy balance and ecosystem dynamics on these smaller scales. However, computational constraints have limited the implementation of the high-resolution models for continental and global scale applications.
The current work presents a hybrid-3D hydrological approach is presented, where the 1D vertical soil column model (available in many ESMs) is coupled with a high-resolution lateral flow model (h2D) to simulate subsurface flow and overland flow. H2D accounts for both local-scale hillslope and regional-scale unconfined aquifer responses (i.e. riparian zone and wetlands). This approach was shown to give comparable results as those obtained by an explicit 3D Richards model for the subsurface, but improves runtime efficiency considerably.
The h3D approach is implemented for the Delaware river basin, where Noah-MP land surface model (LSM) is used to calculated vertical energy and water exchanges with the atmosphere using a 10km grid resolution. Noah-MP was coupled within the WRF-Hydro infrastructure with the lateral 1km grid resolution h2D model, for which the average depth-to-bedrock, hillslope width function and soil parameters were estimated from digital datasets.
The ability of this h3D approach to simulate the hydrological dynamics of the Delaware River basin will be assessed by comparing the model results (both hydrological performance and numerical efficiency) with the standard setup of the NOAH-MP model and a high-resolution (1km) version of NOAH-MP, which also explicitly accounts for lateral subsurface and overland flow.
Hazenberg P., Broxton P., Brunke M., Gochis D., Niu G.-Y., Pelletier J., Troch P., Zeng X. (2015): Development of a hybrid 3-D hydrological model to simulate hillslopes and the regional unconfined aquifer system in Earth system models. Abstract GC22A-06 presented at 2015 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, CA, 14-18 Dec..