|On the asymmetric response of aquifer water level to floods and droughts in Illinois
|Year of Publication
|Eltahir, E. A. B. & Yeh, P. J. F.
|WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1029/1998WR900071Here we analyze observed characteristics of the natural variability in the regional-scale hydrological cycle of Illinois, including the soil and atmospheric branches. This analysis is based on a consistent data set that describes several hydrological variables: the flux of-atmospheric water vapor, incoming solar radiation, precipitation, soil moisture content, aquifer water level, and river flow. The climatology of the average regional hydrological cycle has been estimated. Variability in incoming solar radiation, not precipitation, is the main forcing of the seasonal variability in evaporation, soil moisture content, aquifer water level, and river flow. While precipitation plays a minor role in shaping the natural variability in the regional hydrological cycle at the seasonal timescale, variability in precipitation is the major factor in shaping the natural variability in the regional hydrological cycle at the interannual timescale. The anomalies in the different variables of the regional hydrological cycle have been computed and the persistence patterns of extreme floods and droughts have been compared. The 1988 drought left a signature in the aquifer water level that is significantly more persistent than the corresponding signature for the 1993 summer flood. The discharge from unconfined groundwater aquifers to streams (base flow) provides an efficient dissipation mechanism for the wet anomalies in aquifer water level. However, the nonlinear dependence of the groundwater discharge on aquifer water level (groundwater rating curve) may explain why droughts leave a significantly more persistent signature on groundwater hydrology, in comparison to the signature of floods. This nonlinearity has been attributed to the increasing degree by which the unconfined aquifers get connected to the channels network, as the aquifer water level rises leading to higher drainage density. The potential implications of these results regarding the impact on regional water resources due to any future climate change are discussed.