Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Forage and Livestock Production Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342511

Research Project: Integrated Forage Systems for Food and Energy Production in the Southern Great Plains

Location: Forage and Livestock Production Research

Title: Understanding climate-hydrologic-human interactions to guide groundwater model development for Southern High Plains

Author
item Uddameri, Venkatesh - Texas Tech University
item Singaraju, Sreeram - Texas Tech University
item Karim, Abdullah - Texas Tech University
item Gowda, Prasanna
item Bailey, Ryan - University Of Colorado
item Schipanski, Meagan - University Of Colorado

Submitted to: Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2017
Publication Date: 1/2/2018
Citation: Uddameri, V., Singaraju, S., Karim, A., Gowda, P., Bailey, R., Schipanski, M. 2018. Understanding climate-hydrologic-human interactions to guide groundwater model development for Southern High Plains. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. 162: 79-99.

Interpretive Summary: Groundwater models form the backbone of water resources planning and management efforts. The existing groundwater availability models that use MODFLOW in the Southern High Plains covering the Texas Panhandle may not capture the human, hydrologic and climate interactions with a high degree of fidelity. An integration of these groundwater models with detailed simulators of hydrologic, human and climate systems will greatly enhance our capability evaluate impacts of numerous groundwater management strategies. In this study, a conceptual modeling framework was applied to a current regional-scale groundwater modeling study in the Southern High Plains. The paucity of groundwater production data was identified as a major limiting factor. An integration of a crop growth model was noted to be useful in obtaining reasonable groundwater production estimates. Baseflow separation indicated that surface water-groundwater interactions have diminished over the last six decades due to declining water tables. While groundwater withdrawals generally increased during droughts, the aquifer also buffered climatic influences at some locations.

Technical Abstract: The Ogallala aquifer is the only reliable source of water in the southern High Plains (SHP) region of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Groundwater availability has fostered a strong agricultural economy that has a significant impact on global food security. Groundwater models that not only capture the regional hydrogeologic characteristics, but also faithfully simulate human-hydrologic-climate interactions are crucial to guide future water management and policy planning endeavors in light of climate change. A well-defined conceptual model is the necessary first-step in that direction. Conceptual modeling should not be limited to compiling necessary datasets alone but must focus on generating critical insights pertaining to human-climate-aquifer interactions especially when groundwater models are to be used for guiding future policy. Model integration and the feasibility of coupling available tools and techniques must be explored to fill-in critical data gaps and capture interactions with a high degree of fidelity. A conceptual modeling framework built on this premise was applied to a current regional-scale groundwater modeling study in the Southern High Plains. The paucity of groundwater production data was identified as a major limiting factor. The Decision Support System for Agro-Technology Transfer (DSSAT) model was noted to be useful in obtaining reasonable groundwater production estimates. The time to recharge is long (decades to centuries) over most of the aquifer. As such, the coupling of watershed and groundwater models is perhaps not warranted. Baseflow separation indicated that surface water-groundwater interactions have diminished over the last six decades due to declining water tables. While groundwater withdrawals generally increased during droughts, the aquifer also buffered climatic influences at some locations.