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Surface water - groundwater interactions


This thematic group focuses on the hydrological and biogeochemical processes occurring in saturated sediment interfaces between groundwater and surface water bodies in urban areas. While some projects target lake – groundwater interactions (i.e. bank filtration), others focus on the hyporheic zone, the sediment interface between groundwater bodies and lotic systems. Both interfaces are characterized by steep hydrological and biogeochemical gradients, diverse microbial communities and a distinct distribution of hydrological residence times and, thus, constitute important sinks for urban water contaminants. Therefore, they do not only play a pivotal role with regard to ecosystem functioning and health, but they also constitute reactive barriers, which help protect drinking water resources. Combining expertise from civil engineers and natural scientists, our overall aim is to understand both, the ecosystem services provided by groundwater - surface water interfaces as well as their role in urban water cycles. 

Field, laboratory and modelling studies are used to explore the effects of bank filtration on lake ecosystems (Project N5). A particular focus is placed on the degradation processes of iodinated contrast media during bank filtration (Project T6). These diagnostic agents show decreasing concentrations during bank filtration although they are known to be very stable and persistent to conventional wastewater treatment.

Detailed field investigations across a number of different sites in Berlin, Germany, as well as Adelaide, Australia, are combined with transport and reaction models to elucidate the hydrological and biogeochemical process that control pollution dynamics of polar organic trace contaminants in hyporheic bioreactors of urban rivers (Project N6). An integral solver for groundwater-surface water interactions is being extended for transport processes in OpenFOAM (Project N7). For the first time, the Navier – Stokes equation is being applied to model hyporheic exchange and solute transport across the sediment – water interface. 

Involved students:
Mikael Gillefalk
Tabea Broecker
Fatima El-Athman
Jonas Schaper (corresponding doctoral student)

Involved kollegiates
Anna Jäger





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