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Water 2018, 10(7), 879; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10070879

An Integrated Approach for Modeling Wetland Water Level: Application to a Headwater Wetland in Coastal Alabama, USA

1
NOAA Affiliate, Lynker Technologies, Office of Water Prediction—Analysis and Prediction Division, NOAA National Water Center, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, USA
2
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 602 Duncan Drive, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
3
National Risk Management Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 May 2018 / Revised: 25 June 2018 / Accepted: 26 June 2018 / Published: 2 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

Headwater wetlands provide many benefits such as water quality improvement, water storage, and providing habitat. These wetlands are characterized by water levels near the surface and respond rapidly to rainfall events. Driven by both groundwater and surface water inputs, water levels (WLs) can be above or below the ground at any given time depending on the season and climatic conditions. Therefore, WL predictions in headwater wetlands is a complex problem. In this study a hybrid modeling approach was developed for improved WL predictions in wetlands, by coupling a watershed model with artificial neural networks (ANNs). In this approach, baseflow and stormflow estimates from the watershed draining to a wetland are first estimated using an uncalibrated Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). These estimates are then combined with meteorological variables and are utilized as inputs to an ANN model for predicting daily WLs in wetlands. The hybrid model was used to successfully predict WLs in a headwater wetland in coastal Alabama, USA. The model was then used to predict the WLs at the study wetland from 1951 to 2005 to explore the possible teleconnections between the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and WLs. Results show that both precipitation and the variations in WLs are partially affected by ENSO in the study area. A correlation analysis between seasonal precipitation and the Nino 3.4 Index suggests that winters are wetter during El Niño in Coastal Alabama. Analysis also revealed a significant negative correlation between WLs and the Nino 3.4 Index during the El Niño phase for spring. The findings of this study and the developed methodology/tools are useful to predict long-term WLs in wetlands and construct more accurate restoration plans under a variable climate. View Full-Text
Keywords: wetland hydrology; watershed models; ANN; climate variability; ENSO wetland hydrology; watershed models; ANN; climate variability; ENSO
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Rezaeianzadeh, M.; Kalin, L.; Hantush, M.M. An Integrated Approach for Modeling Wetland Water Level: Application to a Headwater Wetland in Coastal Alabama, USA. Water 2018, 10, 879.

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