Recharge varies spatially and temporally as it depends on a wide variety of factors (e.g. vegetation, precipitation, climate, topography, geology, and soil type), making it one of the most difficult, complex, and uncertain hydrologic parameters to quantify. Despite its inherent variability, groundwater modellers, planners, and policy makers often ignore recharge variability and assume a single average recharge value for an entire watershed. Relatively few attempts have been made to quantify or incorporate spatial and temporal recharge variability into water resource planning or groundwater modelling efforts. In this study, a simple, daily soil-water balance model was developed and used to estimate the spatial and temporal distribution of groundwater recharge of the Trout Lake basin of northern Wisconsin for 1996-2000 as a means to quantify recharge variability. For the 5 years of study, annual recharge varied spatially by as much as 18 cm across the basin; vegetation was the predominant control on this variability. Recharge also varied temporally with a threefold annual difference over the 5-year period. Intra-annually, recharge was limited to a few isolated events each year and exhibited a distinct seasonal pattern. The results suggest that ignoring recharge variability may not only be inappropriate, but also, depending on the application, may invalidate model results and predictions for regional and local water budget calculations, water resource management, nutrient cycling, and contaminant transport studies. Recharge is spatially and temporally variable, and should be modelled as such. Copyright ?? 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The spatial and temporal variability of groundwater recharge in a forested basin in northern Wisconsin