Simulation of the annual water table dynamics of a floodplain wetland, Narborough Bog, UK

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This paper describes the simulation of a succession of annual hydro-periods describing water table variations in a British floodplain wetland, Narborough Bog. This is achieved through the application of a model, developed using MODFLOW, which requires inputs of weekly precipitation, evapotranspiration and river stage. The model reproduces the observed temporal variation in the wetland water tables illustrating the range in water table conditions experienced by the wetland, their relationship to hydrometeorological conditions, and the seasonal and annual variability in the wetland water budget. The model also estimates defuse water fluxes such as seepage flows to and from the adjacent river. The model simulations demonstrate the importance of successful representation of the stratigraphy of alluvial and organic deposits within the wetland. Model performance is evaluated for 2 years: 1991 and 1992 during a period of field instrumentation. The model is then used to reproduce the wetland hydroperiod for further 6 years: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1987 and 1988 when local data for precipitatio, evapotranspiration and river stage are available. The results indicate how the wetland responds to a combination of hydrological events and emphasise the importance of percipitation-both weekly totals and its annual distribution. The model simulations reveal the importance of the water storage function of the wetland and indicate the varying relationship of the wetland to the lowland river: at low flows the river represents a base level to which the wetland water table grades. Conversely, for small periods of time wetland water tables are elevated by the effects of marginal silt-clay levee adjacent to the riverbank. Conditions of influent seepage from river to wetland were experienced only on isolated occasions. Such results demonstrate the benefits of floodplain wetlands in moderating extremes of river flow and demonstrating the need for rivers and floodplain wetland to remain closely integrated. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-172
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2002


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