EU Science Hub

Development and Testing of a Physically-Based, Three-Dimensional Model of Surface and Subsurface Hydrology

Abstract: 
We present a numerical, catchment-scale model that solves flow equations of surface and subsurface flow in a three-dimensional domain. Surface flow is described by the two-dimensional parabolic approximation of the St. Venant equation, using Manning¿s equation of motion; subsurface flow is described by the three-dimensional Richards¿ equation for the unsaturated zone and by three-dimensional Darcy¿s law for the saturated zone, using an integrated finite difference formulation. The hydrological component is a dynamic link library implemented within a comprehensive model which simulates surface energy, radiation budget, snow melt, potential evapotranspiration, plant development and plant water uptake. We tested the model by comparing distributed and integrated three-dimensional simulated and observed perched water depth (PWD), stream flow data, and soil water contents for a small catchment. Additional tests were performed for the snow melting algorithm as well as the different hydrological processes involved. The model successfully described the water balance and its components as evidenced by good agreement between measured and modeled data.