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Guidelines for cold‐regions groundwater numerical modeling

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Abstract The impacts of ongoing climate warming on cold‐regions hydrogeology and groundwater resources have created a need to develop groundwater models adapted to these environments. Although permafrost is considered relatively impermeable to groundwater flow, permafrost thaw may result in potential increases in surface water infiltration, groundwater recharge, and hydrogeologic connectivity that can impact northern water resources. To account for these feedbacks, groundwater models that include the dynamic effects of freezing and thawing on ground properties and thermal regimes have been recently developed. However, these models are more complex than traditional hydrogeology numerical models due to the inclusion of nonlinear freeze–thaw processes and complex thermal boundary conditions. As such, their use to date has been limited to a small community of modeling experts. This article aims to provide guidelines and tips on cold‐regions groundwater modeling for those with previous modeling experience. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Methods Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
Conceptual hydrogeologic permafrost systems under the present climate conditions for (a) summer and (b) winter, and its potential changes in a warmer climate for (c) summer and (d) winter
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Different methods to set the initial conditions for a cryohydrogeologic model using (a) field data, (b) a steady‐state spin‐up with constant specified temperature nodes, and (c) a dynamic equilibrium spin‐up using a seasonally variable surface thermal boundary condition
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Conceptual model of typical surface thermal boundary condition configurations for cryohydrogeologic models: (a) specified ground‐surface temperature (GST); (b) specified air temperature (AT) with a thermal boundary layer (TBL); (c) specified heat flux with a dynamic surface layer (SL); (d) specified temperature or heat flux calculated with a surface energy balance. ET and LH are evapotranspiration and latent heat release by snowmelt, respectively
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Conceptual model of typical surface hydraulic boundary condition configurations for cryohydrogeologic numerical models: (a) surface‐specified hydraulic head; (b) specified hydraulic head on the left boundary and under the water body; (c) constant specified recharge coupled with a drain; (d) seasonally variable specified recharge with drain nodes under the water body; (e) specified water inflow/outflow or head/pressure from a linked surface hydrological model. ET is evapotranspiration and WP is water percolation through the snow cover
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Basic structure of a cryohydrogeologic model, showing primary links between flow and heat transport modules solving for heads (h) and temperature (T), respectively, with freeze–thaw processes represented by blue arrows. BCs and ICs stand for boundary conditions and initial conditions, respectively, and Co and λ stand for the bulk heat capacity and bulk thermal conductivity of the porous medium, respectively
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Model setup steps for a cryohydrogeologic numerical model
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Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
Science of Water > Methods

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