Modeling water storage dynamics in large floodplains and wetlands

  • Floodplains and other wetlands depend on seasonal river flooding and play an important role in the terrestrial water cycle. They influence evapotranspiration, water storage and river discharge dynamics, and they are the habitat of a large number of animals and plants. Thus, to assess the Earth’s system and its changes, a robust understanding of the dynamics of floodplain wetlands including inundated areas, water storages, and water flows is required. This PhD thesis aims at improving the modeling of large floodplains and wetlands within the global-scale hydrological model WaterGAP, in order to better estimate water flows and water storage variations in different storage compartments. Within the scope of this thesis, I have developed a new approach to simulate dynamic floodplain inundation on a global-scale. This approach introduces an algorithm into WaterGAP, which has a spatial resolution of 0.5 degree (longitude and latitude) globally. The new approach uses subgrid-scale topography, based on high-resolution digital elevation models, to describe the floodplain elevation profile within each grid cell by applying a hypsographic curve. The approach comprises the modeling of a two-way river-floodplain interaction, the separate downstream water transport within the river and the floodplain – both with temporally and spatially different variable flow velocities – and the floodplain-groundwater interactions. The WaterGAP version that includes the floodplain algorithm, WaterGAP 2.2b_fpl, estimates floodplain and river water storage, inundated area and water table elevation, and also simulates backwater effects. WaterGAP 2.2b_fpl was applied to model river discharge, river flow velocity, water storages, water heights and surface water extent on a global-scale. Model results were comprehensively validated against ground observations and remote sensing data. Overall, the modeled and observed data are in agreement. In comparison to the former version WaterGAP 2.2b, the model performance has improved significantly. The improvements are most remarkable in the Amazon River basin. However, the seasonal variation of surface water extent and total water storage anomalies are still too low in many regions on the globe when compared to observations. A detailed analysis of the simulated results suggests that in the Amazon River basin the introduction of backwater effects is important for realistically simulating water storages and surface water extent. Future efforts should focus on the simulation of water levels in order to better model the flow routing according to water slope. To further improve the model performance in specific regions, I recommend that the globally constant model parameters that affect inundation initiation, river-floodplain interaction, DEM correction for vegetation, and backwater amount at basin or subbasin-scale be adjusted.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Author:Linda Adam
Parent Title (German):Frankfurt Hydrology Paper ; 17
Series (Serial Number):Frankfurt Hydrology Paper (17)
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Petra DöllORCiDGND, Andreas Güntner
Advisor:Petra Döll
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2017/07/04
Year of first Publication:2017
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2017/05/23
Release Date:2017/07/04
Tag:GRACE; floodplains; hydrological modeling; hydrology; wetlands
Page Number:198
Last Page:166
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht