Constraining water table depth simulations in a land surface model using estimated baseflow

Min Hui Lo, Pat J.F. Yeh, J. S. Famiglietti

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Several recent studies have shown the significance of representing groundwater in land surface hydrologic simulations. However, optimal methods for model parameter calibration in order to realistically simulate baseflow and groundwater depth have received little attention. Most studies still use globally constant groundwater parameters due to the lack of available datasets for calibration. Moreover, when models are calibrated, various parameter combinations are found to exhibit equifinality in simulated total runoff due to model parameter interactions. In this study, a simple lumped groundwater model is incorporated into the Community Land Model (CLM), in which the water table is interactively coupled to soil moisture through the groundwater recharge fluxes. The coupled model (CLMGW) is successfully validated in Illinois using a 22-year (1984-2005) monthly observational dataset. Baseflow estimates from the digital recursive filter technique are used to calibrate the CLMGW parameters. The advantage obtained from incorporating baseflow calibration in addition to traditional calibration based on measured streamflow alone is demonstrated by a Monte Carlo-type simulation analysis. Using the optimal parameter sets identified from baseflow calibration, flow partitioning and water table depth simulations using CLMGW are improved, and the equifinality problem is alleviated. For other regions that lack observations of water table depth, the baseflow calibration approach can be used to enhance parameter estimation and constrain water table depth simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1552-1564
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Baseflow calibration
  • Calibration
  • CLM
  • Coupled model
  • Equifinality
  • Groundwater model
  • Parameter interactions

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