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An underground drip water monitoring network to characterize rainfall recharge of groundwater at different geologies, environments, and climates across Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-09, 06:50 authored by Andy Baker, Margaret Shanafield, Wendy TimmsWendy Timms, Martin Sogaard Andersen, Stacey Priestley, Marilu Melo Zurita
Abstract. Understanding when and why groundwater recharge occurs is of fundamental importance for the sustainable use of this essential freshwater resource for humans and ecosystems. However, accurately capturing this component of the water balance is widely acknowledged to be a major challenge. Direct physical measurements identifying when groundwater recharge is occurring are possible by utilizing a sensor network of hydrological loggers deployed in underground spaces located in the vadose zone. Through measurements of water percolating into these spaces from above, we can record the potential groundwater recharge process in action. By using automated sensors, it is possible to precisely determine when recharge occurs (which event, month, or season and for which climate condition). Combined with daily rainfall data, it is possible to quantify the “rainfall recharge threshold”, the amount of rainfall needed to generate groundwater recharge, and its temporal and spatial variability. Australia's National Groundwater Recharge Observing System (NGROS) provides the first dedicated sensor network for observing groundwater recharge at an event scale across a wide range of geologies, environments, and climate types representing a wide range of Australian hydroclimates. Utilizing tunnels, mines, caves, and other subsurface spaces located in the vadose zone, the sensors effectively record “deep drainage”, water that can move beyond the shallow subsurface and root zone to generate groundwater recharge. The NGROS has the temporal resolution to capture individual recharge events, with multiple sensors deployed at each site to constrain the heterogeneity of recharge between different flow paths, and to quantify (including uncertainty bounds) rainfall recharge thresholds. Established in 2022, the network is described here together with examples of data being generated.

History

Journal

Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems

Volume

13

Pagination

117-129

Location

Gottingen, Germany

ISSN

2193-0856

eISSN

2193-0864

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

1

Publisher

European Geosciences Union

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