Presentation: Groundwater – surface water interactions in a lowland stream valley: thermal characterization of groundwater upwelling in a wetland

Event: AGU Fall Meeting 2019, San Francisco (USA)
Presentation by Joel Tirado-Conde, Majken Looms, Peter Engesgaard


Wetlands are extremely dynamical systems and their behavior depends on the characteristics of the surroundings (topography, geology and vegetation, among others) as well as on meteorological and hydrological processes. Wetlands are wet partly because they receive groundwater (or drain water) through diffuse upwelling and through springs. Studying upwelling is of great importance to e.g. evaluate the overall ecology or capacity to remove nitrate of the wetland system. One problem is that diffuse upwelling is difficult locate and measure.

We analyze the temporal dynamics of a groundwater fed wetland in central Jutland (Denmark) by the use of various thermal methods across a lowland stream valley. A monitoring system consisting of Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS), wells with temperature depth profiles and thermal infrared (TIR) imaging on a UAV, in conjunction with hydrological and atmospheric data, provide a quasi 3D time-lapse characterization of the thermal behavior of the system, both on the ground and in the subsurface, over a period of around two years.

By analyzing the temporal evolution of the temperature in both the wetland surface and the groundwater, we can infer potential locations of groundwater upwelling to the land surface and subsequent overland flow. This is relevant as previous studies have shown that it is a generally overlooked flow component that may have a big impact relative to base flow. Moreover, it serves as a test for the feasibility of using heat as a tracer to study groundwater – surface water exchanges in wetlands.

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