Using a coupled groundwater/surface-water model to predict climate-change impacts to lakes in the Trout Lake Watershed, northern Wisconsin

By: , and 
Edited by: Richard M.T. Webb and Darius J. Semmens



A major focus of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Trout Lake Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) project is the development of a watershed model to allow predictions of hydrologic response to future conditions including land-use and climate change. The coupled groundwater/surface-water model GSFLOW was chosen for this purpose because it could easily incorporate an existing groundwater flow model and it provides for simulation of surface-water processes.


The Trout Lake watershed in northern Wisconsin is underlain by a highly conductive outwash sand aquifer. In this area, streamflow is dominated by groudwater contributions, however, surface runoff occurs during intense rainfall periods and spring snowmelt. Surface runoff also occurs locally near stream/lake areas where the unsaturated zone is thin. A diverse data set, collected from 1992 to 2007 for the Trout Lake WEBB project and the co-located and NSF-funded North Temperate Lake LTER project, includes snowpack, solar radiation, potential evapotranspiration, lake levels, groundwater levels, and streamflow. The time-series processing software TSPROC (Doherty 2001)was used to distill the large time series data set to a smaller set of observations and summary statistics that captured the salient hydrologic information. The time-series processing reduced hundreds of thousands of observations to less than 5,000. Model calibration included specific predictions for several lakes in the study area using the PEST parameter estimation suit of software (Doherty 2007). The calibrated model was used to simulate the hydrologic response in the study lakes to a variety of climate change scenarios culled from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (Solomon et al. 2007). Results from the simulations indicate climate change could result in substantial changes to the lake levels and components of the hydrologic budget of a seepage lake in the flow system. For a drainage lake lower in the flow system, the impacts of climate change are diminished.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Using a coupled groundwater/surface-water model to predict climate-change impacts to lakes in the Trout Lake Watershed, northern Wisconsin
Series number 2009-5049
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Planning for an uncertain future - monitoring, integration, and adaptation (SIR 2009-5049)
First page 155
Last page 161
Conference Title 3rd interagency conference on research in the watersheds: planning for an uncertain future: monitoring, integration, and adaptation
Conference Location Estes Park, CO
Conference Date 8-11 September, 2008
Country United States
State Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Trout Lake
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N