Estimation of Average Diffuse Aquifer Recharge Using Time Series Modeling of Groundwater Heads

Christophe Obergfell, Mark Bakker, Kees Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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A new method is presented to estimate average diffuse aquifer recharge of water table aquifers in temperate climates using time series analysis of water table level fluctuations. An accurate estimate of the recharge caused by rainfall requires an accurate estimate of the influence of evaporation. In temperate climates, evaporation imprints a seasonal component in the water table fluctuations. As such, recharge is estimated from time series models fitted to observed heads under the additional constraint that the seasonal harmonic of the observed head is reproduced as the sum of the transformed seasonal harmonics present in precipitation, evaporation, and pumping. An explicit equation is presented, in terms of the model parameters, for the damping and phase shift of the response to the seasonal harmonic of the stresses. Taking into account the seasonal harmonic of the observed heads results in more reliable recharge estimates compared to standard time series analysis. The method is limited to systems that are sufficiently linear and that remain unaltered over the analysis period. Head fluctuations and stresses should contain a seasonal harmonic that can be estimated with accurately. Runoff must be negligible or quantifiable. The method is applied to measured heads obtained from piezometers situated on and around the ice-pushed sand ridge of Salland in the Netherlands and compares well with recharge estimates based on the saturated zone chloride mass balance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2194-2210
Number of pages17
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • aquifer recharge
  • models reliability
  • time series analysis

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