Groundwater exchanges with lakes resulting from cyclical wet and dry climate extremes maintain lake levels in the environment in ways that are not well understood, in part because they remain difficult to simulate. To better understand the atypical groundwater interactions with lakes caused by climatic extremes, an original conceptual approach is introduced using MODFLOW-2005 and a kinematic-wave approximation to variably saturated flow that allows lake size and position in the basin to change while accurately representing the daily lake volume and three-dimensional variably saturated groundwater flow responses in the basin. Daily groundwater interactions are simulated for a calibrated lake basin in Florida over a decade that included historic wet and dry departures from the average rainfall. The divergent climate extremes subjected nearly 70% of the maximum lakebed area and 75% of the maximum shoreline perimeter to both groundwater inflow and lake leakage. About half of the lakebed area subject to flow reversals also went dry. A flow-through pattern present for 73% of the decade caused net leakage from the lake 80% of the time. Runoff from the saturated lake margin offset the groundwater deficit only about half of that time. A centripetal flow pattern present for 6% of the decade was important for maintaining the lake stage and generated 30% of all net groundwater inflow. Pumping effects superimposed on dry climate extremes induced the least frequent but most cautionary flow pattern with leakage from over 90% of the actual lakebed area.
Additional publication details
Simulating the effect of climate extremes on groundwater flow through a lakebed
Nevada Water Science Center, Florida Water Science Center