Modeling and Monitoring Hydrologic Processes in Large Watersheds

We have developed a novel hydrologic process model called the Integrated Landscape Hydrology Model (ILHM), which is a framework of existing and novel codes to simulate the entire hydrologic cycle at large watershed scales. ILHM is capable of modeling all the major surface and near-surface hydrologic processes including evapotranspiration, groundwater recharge, and stream discharge. In the first published application of the model, the ILHM-modeled stream flows compared favorably with measured data with a minimum of parameter calibration. It was tested for a small watershed (~130 square kilometers) in Michigan, and is currently being applied to much larger domains.

Muskegon River Watershed Recharge

The figure on the left shows average simulated groundwater recharge over a 27 year period (1980-2006) for the Muskegon River Watershed in central lower Michigan. Calculated groundwater recharge values vary as much as 50% across the watershed within similar land use classes. Recharge also varies significantly between land use types.

The primary ILHM code is written in the MATLAB computing environment with some routines coded in C and FORTRAN. GIS inputs in a variety of formats can be used. Time-series inputs and parameter values are stored in MySQL, and model outputs are written to disk in HDF5 format.

Understanding dynamic watershed processes requires high spatial and temporal resolution simulations coupled to extensive databases of groundwater levels and stream flows. Our groundwater flow simulations are being integrated into a suite of tools to better understand the influence of land use and climate changes on water flows, nutrient fluxes to streams, and the health of aquatic ecosystems.

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