Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019WI279B

Impact of changing snow cover and frozen ground regimes on groundwater recharge

Institute: Wisconsin
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-18 End Date: 2020-06-17
Total Federal Funds: $47,535 Total Non-Federal Funds: $34,759

Principal Investigators: Steven P Loheide II

Abstract: Understanding the multifaceted feedbacks between snow cover, frozen ground, infiltration and GW recharge are critical for predicting the ways in which our groundwater resources will be affected by climate variability and changes in environmental conditions. This project will involve a multi-pronged approach to determine the extent to which changes in freeze and thaw cycles alter groundwater recharge. A retrospective analysis will be performed using existing groundwater, climate and soil temperature observations to quantitatively identify characteristics of frozen ground regimes that encourage or inhibit groundwater recharge. These data will be used to develop and calibrate 1-D coupled models of snow accumulation and ablation, variably saturated groundwater flow, and heat transport at sites across WI and the Upper Midwest and then simulate changes in groundwater recharge resulting from a warming climate causing midwinter snowmelt and altered frozen ground characteristics. This will enable us to understand how changes in Wisconsin’s winter temperatures will differentially affect groundwater recharge in soils spanning a range of textural types. To ensure maximum impact of this research, we will engage with the public, regional water resource managers, and researchers through development of a web and social media presence to provide updates on the project, presentation of results annually at the WI American Water Resources Association meeting, a public “Tap Talk†at a WI brewery and submission of at least one peer reviewed manuscript.