Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018UT208B

Understanding the Variability of Recharge and Groundwater Control on Mountainous Stream Discharge in Karst Environments

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,173 Total Non-Federal Funds: $38,482

Principal Investigators: Tianfang Xu, Bethany Neilson

Abstract: Snow recharged karst aquifers are the primary source of drinking and agricultural water supply in many mountainous areas including Northern Utah. Projected variability in climate can create uncertainty in water resources sustainability. There is a clear need to understand how karst mountain watersheds have and will respond to shifting patterns of temperature and precipitation. However, this can be difficult due to complexity of karst aquifers and recharge associated with snowmelt processes. The goal of this proposed research is to quantify the variability of recharge and stream discharge due to the corresponding variability in precipitation. To accomplish this, we will develop a hybrid modeling framework for snow recharged karst aquifers by integrating a spatially-distributed, physically-based snow melt model with data-driven models representing the karst aquifer. We will apply the hybrid model to the Logan River watershed to quantify the historical effects of snow-rain distribution and timing on the inter-annual and intra-annual variability of karst aquifer recharge and discharge. The outcome will provide the foundation for assessing the resiliency of water resources in Northern Utah and other snow-recharged karst mountainous regions.