Catchment-scale modelling of flow and nutrient transport in the Chalk unsaturated zone
Jackson, B. M., Wheater, H. S., Wade, A. J., Butterfield, D., Mathias, S. A., Ireson, A. M., Butler, A. P., McIntyre, N. R. and Whitehead, R. (2007) Catchment-scale modelling of flow and nutrient transport in the Chalk unsaturated zone. Ecological Modelling, 209 (1). pp. 41-52.
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2007.07.005
The unsaturated zone exerts a major control on the delivery of nutrients to Chalk streams, yet flow and transport processes in this complex, dual-porosity medium have remained controversial. A major challenge arises in characterising these processes, both at the detailed mechanistic level and at an appropriate level for inclusion within catchment-scale models for nutrient management. The lowland catchment research (LOCAR) programme in the UK has provided a unique set of comprehensively instrumented groundwater-dominated catchments. Of these, the Pang and Lambourn, tributaries of the Thames near Reading, have been a particular focus for research into subsurface processes and surface water-groundwater interactions. Data from LOCAR and other sources, along with a new dual permeability numerical model of the Chalk, have been used to explore the relative roles of matrix and fracture flow within the unsaturated zone and resolve conflicting hypotheses of response. From the improved understanding gained through these explorations, a parsimonious conceptualisation of the general response of flow and transport within the Chalk unsaturated zone was formulated. This paper summarises the modelling and data findings of these explorations, and describes the integration of the new simplified unsaturated zone representation with a catchment-scale model of nutrients (INCA), resulting in a new model for catchment-scale flow and transport within Chalk systems: INCA-Chalk. This model is applied to the Lambourn, and results, including hindcast and forecast simulations, are presented. These clearly illustrate the decadal time-scales that need to be considered in the context of nutrient management and the EU Water Framework Directive. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.