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Groundwater Table, Temperature, and Precipitation

Jülich supercomputers calculate current terrestrial data for North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Europe

Groundwater, land surface, and atmosphere are interconnected through complex processes and interactions. When simulating terrestrial data such as the groundwater table, soil water content, or temperature, it is therefore important to take the interaction of the individual components into consideration in the calculations. Such an integrated simulation, however, requires enormous computing power in order to provide new results every day. Only supercomputers can simulate these complex interactions within terrestrial systems in a very short time.

This approach is pursued by the HPSC TerrSys research initiative (High-Performance Scientific Computing in Terrestrial Systems), which was set up in 2011 under the umbrella of Geoverbund ABC/J. The scientists involved develop models to simulate the terrestrial geo-ecosystem taking into consideration the interactions of water, energy, and material flows, from the groundwater right up into the atmosphere. This holistic approach is missing from most comparable simulations. In addition to calculating typical atmospheric data such as air temperature and precipitation, the researchers' models for the first time permit projections on coupled water cycle processes in the soil. For example, plant-available water and the change in the total water volume in the soil are calculated.

YouTube videos

The HPSC TerrSys scientists continuously optimize their models. Current simulations are intended to better understand the interactions between the systems and thus permit more accurate projections of the terrestrial system. But they already have a practical use in the form of YouTube videos: simulations focusing on water flows in the soil indicate how groundwater levels change and how much water is stored in the soil. While such information is interesting for water suppliers, for example, the simulation of plant-available water is important for farmers. Additionally, there is information on temperatures and precipitation for the next day on the HPSC TerrSys YouTube channel.

The researchers conduct their experimental terrestrial simulations for Europe and North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) on the basis of current data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the German Meteorological Service. They are calculated on Jülich's supercomputers JUQUEEN and JURECA. The videos, which are updated daily, show simulations for 72 and 24 hours and are uploaded to YouTube early every morning.
Geoverbund website

HPSC TerrSys: terrestrial simulations for North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Europe

Opens new windowCopyright: HPSC Terrsys /CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

2 m air temperature

This video shows the calculated air temperature (in °C) at an altitude of 2 metres, as is usually measured in meteorology (at lower altitudes, meteorological conditions may be strongly influenced by the ground). Areas coloured blue indicate cooler temperatures, while red areas represent warmer temperatures.

The Europe version includes further information on the left-hand side on precipitation, wind speed, and air humidity for the Jülich area.

Precipitation after interception

This video shows the calculated amount of precipitation at ground level (in millimetres per hour for NRW and in litres per square metre for Europe) after deducting the water retained by vegetation such as trees. Snow (red) is distinguished from rain (blue) The more intensive the colours appear, the more precipitation is expected. In the Europe graphics, the cities of Berlin, Moscow, Paris, Milan, and Rome are listed separately. Cloud cover is indicated in grey.

Terrestrial evapotranspiration

This video shows calculations of evapotranspiration (in millimetres). This is a combination of the vegetation's evaporation and transpiration. The more blue areas are visible on the map, the more moisture plants and soil release.

Water table depth change

This video shows calculations of how the groundwater table changes – more precisely: how the distance from the groundwater to the surface changes (in millimetres). Negative values (blue) signify a decrease in this depth to groundwater, i.e. a rise of the groundwater table.

Water column storage change

This video shows the change of the entire water stored underground and on the surface. The calculations of this water column storage are given in millimetres. Blue means an increase in water storage, red a decrease.

Plant-available soil water change

This video shows how the amount of water changes that is stored in the soil and is thus available to plants. The calculations are given in millimetres. The more blue areas are visible in the graphic, the more water is available to plants.

Sensible heat flux

This video shows calculations for sensible heat that is released into the atmosphere by the Earth's surface. The more red areas are visible in the graphic, the higher is the calculated energy release.

Cloud cover and wind barbs

This video shows calculated cloud cover in percent as well as wind direction (red arrows).

Wind speed

This video shows the wind speed above Europe (in metres per second). Red areas indicate high wind speeds while dark blue areas are almost calm.

500hPa air temperature and 500hPa geopotential

In this video, the colours show the temperature at an air pressure of 500 hectopascal (at an altitude of approximately 5.5–6 km). Red areas indicate a temperature of 0 °C. The further the colour scale moves towards blue, the lower the temperatures are.

500hPa geopotential and sea level pressure

In this video, the colours indicate differences in the air pressure above Europe. Red areas indicate sinking air, i.e. high-pressure areas. The further the colour scale moves towards blue, the lower the air pressure is, down to low-pressure areas.







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