Geophysical Research Letters

Demonstrating fractal scaling of baseflow residence time distributions using a fully-coupled groundwater and land surface model



[1] The influence of the vadose zone, land surface processes, and macrodispersion on the shape and scaling behavior of residence time distributions of baseflow is studied using a fully coupled watershed model in conjunction with a Lagrangian, particle-tracking approach. Numerical experiments are used to simulate groundwater flow paths from recharge locations along the hillslope to the streambed. These experiments are designed to isolate the influences of topography, vadose zone/land surface processes, and macrodispersion on subsurface transport of tagged parcels of water. The results of these simulations agree with previous observations that such distributions exhibit a power law form and fractal behavior, which can be identified from plots of the residence time distribution and the power spectra. It is shown that vadose zone/land surface processes significantly affect both the residence time distributions and their spectra.