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Surface waters (SFW) and groundwater (GW) are the interconnected parts of stream catchments. They are coupled by variable water, solute and heat exchange processes through streambed sediments affecting water discharges as well as water quality. For example, the microbial activity in the transition zone between rivers and groundwater, where up to 97 % of the entire stream respiration occurred, is basically controlled by the availability of oxygen, carbon and the temperature conditions. The goal of this research project will be to analyse and quantify the spatial and temporal variability of SFW-GW fluxes and heat exchange and, in turn, to investigate how these processes affect subsurface temperature condition.
We develop multiple methods, using the natural temperature signal (heat as a natural tracer), to determine subsurface water flow direction and to calculate vertical water fluxes in riverbed sediments based on measured temperature time series observed at multiple depths.
We simulate the spatial and temporal variability of river groundwater exchange, hyporheic flow and temperature pattern, to gain better insights on hydrological and thermal controls dominating the behaviour of an entire river reach. We furthermore use the fully integrated numerical modelling approach to investigate the benefits of temperature in model calibration and parametrisation.