The use of rivers to recharge groundwater is a key water resource management method. High-precision simulations of the groundwater level near rivers can be used to accurately assess the recharge effect. In this study, we used two unstructured grid refinement methods, namely, the quadtree (Q-tree) and nested grid refinement techniques, to simulate groundwater movement under river recharge. We comparatively analyzed the two refinement methods by considering the simulated groundwater level changes before and after the recharge at different distances from the river and by analyzing the groundwater flow and model computation efficiency. Compared to the unrefined model, the two unstructured grid refinement models significantly improve the simulation precision and more accurately describe groundwater level changes from river recharge. The unstructured grid refinement models have higher calculation efficiencies than the base model (the global refinement model) without compromising the simulation precision too much. The Q-tree model has a higher simulation precision and a lower computation time than the nested grid model. In summary, the Q-tree grid refinement method increases the computation efficiency while guaranteeing simulation precision at a certain extent. We therefore recommended the use of this grid refinement method in simulating river recharge to the aquifers.
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