Estimating groundwater recharge

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Abstract

[1] Groundwater recharge is the entry of fresh water into the saturated portion of the subsurface part of the hydrologic cycle, the modifier “saturated” indicating that the pressure of the pore water is greater than atmospheric. Briefly stated, recharge is downward flux across the water table. The term “groundwater recharge” can refer either to the multiple interacting processes generating and controlling the flux or to the fluxR itself. When referring to flux, R can represent either (1) a value integrated over large areas and long periods of time or (2) a point value, or instantaneous flux density, that varies erratically as well as continuously in time and space. Knowing how R is distributed through space and time is required for understanding the dynamics of groundwater flow and transport in any watershed, aquifer, or selected domain of interest and for understanding heads, flow paths, and discharges to streams, wetlands, and other surface water bodies. Clearly among the most important of hydrologic fluxes, R is also one of the most difficult to measure. Advancements in hydrologic science have proceeded surprisingly in lockstep with advances in determining R.

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