Imperial College London

ProfessorAdrianButler

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor of Subsurface Hydrology
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 6122a.butler Website

 
 
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Assistant

 

Miss Judith Barritt +44 (0)20 7594 5967

 
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Location

 

232Skempton BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

151 results found

Coletta VR, Pagano A, Pluchinotta I, Zimmermann N, Davies M, Butler A, Fratino U, Giordano Ret al., 2024, Participatory Causal Loop Diagrams Building for Supporting Decision-Makers Integrating Flood Risk Management in an Urban Regeneration Process, Earth's Future, Vol: 12

Several modeling tools commonly used for supporting flood risk assessment and management are highly effective in representing physical phenomena, but provide a rather limited understanding of the multiple implications that flood risk and flood risk reduction measures have on highly complex systems such as urban areas. In fact, most of the available modeling tools do not fully account for this complexity—and related uncertainty—which heavily affects the interconnections between urban systems evolution and flood risk, ultimately resulting in an ineffective flood risk management. The present research proposes an innovative methodological framework to support decision-makers involved in an urban regeneration process at a planning/strategic level, accounting for the multi-dimensional implications of flood risk and of different flood risk management strategies. The adopted approach is based on the use of System Thinking principles and participatory System Dynamics modeling techniques, and pursues an integration between scientific and stakeholder knowledge. Reference is made to one of the case studies of the CUSSH and CAMELLIA projects, namely Thamesmead (London), a formerly inhospitable marshland currently undergoing a process of urban regeneration, and perceived as being increasingly vulnerable to flooding. It represents an interesting opportunity for building a replicable modeling approach to integrate urban development dynamics with flood risk, ultimately supporting policy and decision-makers in identifying mitigation/prevention measures and understanding how they could help achieve multi-dimensional benefits (e.g., environmental, social and economic).

Journal article

Rowan TSL, Karantoni VA, Butler AP, Jackson MDet al., 2023, 3D-printed Ag–AgCl electrodes for laboratory measurements of self-potential, Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, Vol: 12, Pages: 259-270, ISSN: 2193-0856

This paper details the design, development, and evaluation of a 3D-printed rechargeable Ag–AgCl electrode to measure self-potential (SP) in laboratory experiments. The challenge was to make a small, cheap, robust, and stable electrode that could be used in a wide range of applications. The new electrodes are shown to offer comparable performance to custom-machined laboratory standards, and the inclusion of 3D printing (fused filament fabrication or FFF and stereolithography or SLA) makes them more versatile and significantly less expensive – of the order of × 40 to ×75 cost reduction – to construct than laboratory standards. The devices are demonstrated in both low-pressure experiments using bead packs and high-pressure experiments using natural rock samples. Designs are included for both male and female connections to laboratory equipment. We report design drawings, practical advice for electrode printing and assembly, and printable 3D design files to facilitate wide uptake.

Journal article

Rowan T, Lu Y, Colyer A, Butler Aet al., 2023, On the development of opensource 3D printed impeller flowmeters for open channels, Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, Vol: 94, ISSN: 0955-5986

Commercial flowmeters are often costly and complex but are crucial to mapping flows and calculating contamination flux. Sampling is an easy method for determining concentration, but without flow rates, it is impossible to find total contamination loading. This work devised a simplified circuit and innovative 3D prints to produce a low-cost flow meter. Interchangeable impellers compensate for the low-cost electronics’ limitations allowing the device to be highly accurate and widely applicable. The opensource impeller/propeller design software OpenProp was used to design and build several variations for different flow conditions. This enabled for optimisation of the design. The blades are tested here in open channel flow (though the impeller is designed to fit inside a 2” pipe). This paper also describes work to optimise both the physical and electrical design of the flowmeter. Characteristics including impeller stability, sensitivity and accuracy were studied. The flowmeter was also tested in the River Eden, Cumbria, UK. The design is robust and easy to reproduce, opensource, low-cost impeller flowmeter for community and educational groups.

Journal article

Aguila JF, McDonnell MC, Flynn R, Butler AP, Hamill GA, Etsias G, Benner EM, Donohue Set al., 2023, Comparison of saturated hydraulic conductivity estimated by empirical, hydraulic and numerical modeling methods at different scales in a coastal sand aquifer in Northern Ireland, ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES, Vol: 82, ISSN: 1866-6280

Journal article

Alam R, Quayyum Z, Moulds S, Ahmad Radia M, Hasna HS, Hasan MT, Butler Aet al., 2023, Dhaka city water logging hazards: area identification and vulnerability assessment through GIS-remote sensing techniques, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Vol: 195, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 0167-6369

Water logging is one of the most detrimental phenomena continuing to burden Dhaka dwellers. This study aims to spatio-temporarily identify the water logging hazard zones within Dhaka Metropolitan area and assess the extent of their water logging susceptibility based on informal settlements, built-up areas, and demographical characteristics. The study utilizes integrated geographic information system (GIS)-remote sensing (RS) methods, using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Water and Moisture Index, distance buffer zone from drainage streams, and built-up distributions to identify waterlogged zones with a temporal extent, incorporating social and infrastructural attributes to evaluate water logging effects. These indicators were integrated into an overlay GIS method to measure the vulnerability level across Dhaka city areas. The findings reveal that south and south-western parts of Dhaka were more susceptible to water logging hazards. Almost 35% of Dhaka belongs to the high/very highly vulnerable zone. Greater number of slum households were found within high to very high water logging vulnerable zones and approximately 70% of them are poorly structured. The built-up areas were observed to be increased toward the northern part of Dhaka and were exposed to severe water logging issues. The overall findings reveal the spatio-temporal distribution of the water logging vulnerabilities across the city as well as its impact on the social indicators. An integrated approach is necessary for future development plans to mitigate the risk of water logging.

Journal article

Zhang Z, Dobson B, Moustakis Y, Meili N, Mijic A, Butler A, Athanasios Pet al., 2023, Assessing the co-benefits of urban greening coupled with rainwater harvesting management under current and future climates across USA cities, Environmental Research Letters, Vol: 18, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 1748-9326

Globally, urban areas face multiple challenges owing to climate change. Urban greening (UG) is an excellent option for mitigating flood risk and excess urban heat. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems can cope with plant irrigation needs and urban water management. In this study, we investigated how UG and RWH work together to mitigate environmental risks. By incorporating a new RWH module into the urban ecohydrological model Urban Tethys-Chloris (UT&C), we tested different uses of intervention approaches for 28 cities in the USA, spanning a variety of climates, population densities, and urban landscapes. UT&C was forced by the latest generation convection-permitting climate model simulations of the current (2001–2011) and end-of-century (RCP8.5) climate. Our results showed that neither UG nor RWH, through the irrigation of vegetation, could significantly contribute to mitigating the expected strong increase in 2 m urban canyon temperatures under a high-emission scenario. RWH alone can sufficiently offset the intensifying surface flood risk, effectively enhance water saving, and support UG to sustain a strong urban carbon sink, especially in dry regions. However, in these regions, RWH cannot fully fulfill plant water needs, and additional measures to meet irrigation demand are required to maximize carbon sequestration by urban vegetation.

Journal article

Veness WA, Butler AP, Ochoa-Tocachi BF, Moulds S, Buytaert Wet al., 2022, Localizing hydrological drought early warning using in situ groundwater sensors, Water Resources Research, Vol: 58, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0043-1397

Drought early warning systems (DEWSs) aim to spatially monitor and forecast risk of water shortage to inform early, risk-mitigating interventions. However, due to the scarcity of in situ monitoring in groundwater-dependent arid zones, spatial drought exposure is inferred using maps of satellite-based indicators such as rainfall anomalies, soil moisture, and vegetation indices. On the local scale, these coarse-resolution proxy indicators provide a poor inference of groundwater availability. The improving affordability and technical capability of modern sensors significantly increases the feasibility of taking direct groundwater level measurements in data-scarce, arid regions on a larger scale. Here, we assess the potential of in situ monitoring to provide a localized index of hydrological drought in Somaliland. We find that calibrating a lumped groundwater model with a short time series of groundwater level observations substantially improves the quantification of local water availability when compared to satellite-based indices. By varying the calibration length, we find that a 5-week period capturing both wet and dry season conditions provides most of the calibration capacity. This suggests that short monitoring campaigns are suitable for improving estimations of local water availabilities during drought. Short calibration periods have practical advantages, as the relocation of sensors enables rapid characterization of a large number of wells. These well simulations can supplement continuous in situ monitoring of strategic point sources to setup large-scale monitoring systems with contextualized and localized information on water availability. This information can be used as early warning evidence for the financing and targeting of early actions to mitigate impacts of hydrological drought.

Journal article

Habib A, Butler AP, Bloomfield JP, Sorensen JPRet al., 2022, Fractal domain refinement of models simulating hydrological time series, HYDROLOGICAL SCIENCES JOURNAL, Vol: 67, Pages: 1342-1355, ISSN: 0262-6667

Journal article

Muftah H, Rowan TSL, Butler AP, 2022, Towards open-source LOD2 modelling using convolutional neural networks, MODELING EARTH SYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENT, Vol: 8, Pages: 1693-1709, ISSN: 2363-6203

Journal article

Hamzehloo A, Bahlali ML, Salinas P, Jacquemyn C, Pain CC, Butler AP, Jackson MDet al., 2022, Modelling saline intrusion using dynamic mesh optimization with parallel processing, ADVANCES IN WATER RESOURCES, Vol: 164, ISSN: 0309-1708

Journal article

Murphy CWM, Davis GB, Rayner JL, Walsh T, Bastow TP, Butler AP, Puzon GJ, Morgan MJet al., 2022, The role of predicted chemotactic and hydrocarbon degrading taxa in natural source zone depletion at a legacy petroleum hydrocarbon site, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol: 430, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0304-3894

Petroleum hydrocarbon contamination is a global problem which can cause long-term environmental damage and impacts water security. Natural source zone depletion (NSZD) is the natural degradation of such contaminants. Chemotaxis is an aspect of NSZD which is not fully understood, but one that grants microorganisms the ability to alter their motion in response to a chemical concentration gradient potentially enhancing petroleum NSZD mass removal rates. This study investigates the distribution of potentially chemotactic and hydrocarbon degrading microbes (CD) across the water table of a legacy petroleum hydrocarbon site near Perth, Western Australia in areas impacted by crude oil, diesel and jet fuel. Core samples were recovered and analysed for hydrocarbon contamination using gas chromatography. Predictive metagenomic profiling was undertaken to infer functionality using a combination of 16 S rRNA sequencing and PICRUSt2 analysis. Naphthalene contamination was found to significantly increase the occurrence of potential CD microbes, including members of the Comamonadaceae and Geobacteraceae families, which may enhance NSZD. Further work to explore and define this link is important for reliable estimation of biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbon fuels. Furthermore, the outcomes suggest that the chemotactic parameter within existing NSZD models should be reviewed to accommodate CD accumulation in areas of naphthalene contamination, thereby providing a more accurate quantification of risk from petroleum impacts in subsurface environments, and the scale of risk mitigation due to NSZD.

Journal article

Zhang Z, Paschalis A, Mijic A, Dobson B, Butler Aet al., 2022, Assessing co-benefits of urban greening coupled with rainwater harvesting management under current and future climates across USA cities

<jats:p>&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;Globally, urban areas will face multiple water-related challenges in the near future. The main challenges are intensified droughts leading to water scarcity, increased flood risk due to extreme rainfall intensification, increased total water demand due to an increasing urban population, amplified urban heat island intensities due to urban sprawl, and reduction in urban carbon sink due to plant water stress. Urban greening is an excellent option for mitigating flood risk and excess urban heat. Meanwhile, rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems can cope with water supply needs and urban water management. In this study, we investigated how urban greening and RWH can work together to mitigate the aforementioned risks. We evaluate the joined-up management approach under climate projections for 30 cities in the USA spanning a variety of climates, population densities and urban landscapes. By incorporating a new RWH module in the urban ecohydrological model UT&amp;amp;C and flexible operational rules of reusing harvested water for domestic use and urban green space irrigation, we tested 4 intervention approaches: control, RWH installation, urban greening supported by RWH, and urban greening supported by traditional irrigation (i.e., supplying via mains water). Each intervention approach was evaluated using our adapted version of UT&amp;amp;C and forced by the last generation convection-permitting model simulations of current (2001-2011) and end-of-century (RCP8.5) climate from Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF). The volume of RWH is assumed to be 2000L per household for all cities. Results showed that neither urban greening nor RWH could contribute significantly to reducing the expected increase in canyon temperature, because of the strong change in background climate (i.e., increases in average atmospheric temperature). However, RWH alone can sufficiently reduce the intensifying surface flood risk and effectively enhance water

Conference paper

Veness W, Buytaert W, Butler A, 2022, Localised Drought Early Warning using In-situ Groundwater Sensors

<jats:p>&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWSs) require data on spatial drought intensity and exposure to highlight the most-affected areas for early interventions. This data also provides evidence of drought severity to trigger early financing mechanisms. However, existing DEWSs are dependent on satellite-based parameters, which have a course spatial resolution and high measurement uncertainty. As a result, these indicators do not provide a reliable proxy for local groundwater availability during hydrological drought. This research explores groundwater monitoring for providing an alternative, direct index of groundwater availability for DEWSs, considering the increasing affordability and feasibility of monitoring due to advancements in modern sensors. Using in-situ observations collected from abstraction wells in Maroodi Jeex, Somaliland, a lumped parameter groundwater model has been calibrated that can forecast local groundwater levels during drought, by inputting seasonal and mid-range weather forecasts. The model can also simulate well water levels if the sensor is removed after 1 year, enabling an ongoing, locally calibrated groundwater index without the need for sensor maintenance. This suggests that national-scale groundwater monitoring in Somaliland is technically feasible, and it raises further research questions regarding how such a system can be funded, governed and maintained, as well as how this groundwater information would be practically used in the drought early warning early action process to inform management and financing decisions.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;</jats:p>

Journal article

Bussi G, Whitehead PG, Nelson R, Bryden J, Jackson CR, Hughes AG, Butler AP, Landstrom C, Peters H, Dadson S, Russell Iet al., 2022, Green infrastructure and climate change impacts on the flows and water quality of urban catchments: Salmons Brook and Pymmes Brook in north-east London, Hydrology Research, Vol: 53, ISSN: 1998-9563

Poor water quality is a widespread issue in urban rivers and streams in London. Localised pollution can have impacts on local communities, from health issues to environmental degradation and restricted recreational use of water. The Salmons and Pymmes Brooks, located in the London Borough of Enfield, flow into the River Lee, and in this paper, the impacts of misconnected sewers, urban runoff and atmospheric pollution have been evaluated. The first step towards finding a sustainable and effective solution to these issues is to identify sources and paths of pollutants and to understand their cycle through catchments and rivers. The INCA water quality model has been applied to the Salmons and Pymmes urban catchments in north-east London, with the aim of providing local communities and community action groups such as Thames21 with a tool they can use to assess the water quality issue. INCA is a process-based, dynamic flow and quality model, and so it can account for daily changes in temperature, flow, water velocity and residence time that all affect reaction kinetics and hence chemical flux. As INCA is process-based, a set of mitigation strategies have been evaluated including constructed wetland across the catchment to assess pollution control. The constructed wetlands can make a significant difference reducing sediment transport and improving nutrient control for nitrogen and phosphorus. The results of this paper show that a substantial reduction in nitrate, ammonium and phosphorus concentrations can be achieved if a proper catchment-scale wetland implementation strategy is put in place. Furthermore, the paper shows how the nutrient reduction efficiency of the wetlands should not be affected by climate change.

Journal article

Colyer A, Butler A, Peach D, Hughes Aet al., 2022, How groundwater time series and aquifer property data explain heterogeneity in the Permo-Triassic sandstone aquifers of the Eden Valley, Cumbria, UK, Hydrogeology Journal, Vol: 30, Pages: 445-462, ISSN: 0941-2816

A novel investigation of the impact of meteorological and geological heterogeneity within the Permo-Triassic Sandstoneaquifers of the River Eden catchment, Cumbria (UK), is described. Quantifying the impact of heterogeneity on the watercycle is increasingly important to sustainably manage water resources and minimise food risk. Traditional investigations onheterogeneity at the catchment scale require a considerable amount of data, and this has led to the analysis of available timeseries to interpret the impact of heterogeneity. The current research integrated groundwater-level and meteorological timeseries in conjunction with aquifer property data at 11 borehole locations to quantify the impact of heterogeneity and informthe hydrogeological conceptual understanding. The study visually categorised and used seasonal trend decomposition byLOESS (STL) on 11 groundwater and meteorological time series. Decomposition components of the diferent time serieswere compared using variance ratios. Though the Eden catchment exhibits highly heterogeneous rainfall distribution, comparative analysis at borehole locations showed that (1) meteorological drivers at borehole locations are broadly homogeneousand (2) the meteorological drivers are not sufcient to generate the variation observed in the groundwater-level time series.Three distinct hydrogeological regimes were identifed and shown to coincide with heterogeneous features in the southernBrockram facies, which is the northern silicifed region of the Penrith Sandstone and the St Bees Sandstone. The use of STLanalysis in combination with detailed aquifer property data is a low-impact insightful investigative tool that helps guide thedevelopment of hydrogeological conceptual models.

Journal article

Vineis P, Butler A, 2021, Commentary: Climate change and health: the importance of experiments, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, Vol: 50, Pages: 929-930, ISSN: 0300-5771

Journal article

Dobson B, Jovanovic T, Chen Y, Paschalis A, Butler A, Mijic Aet al., 2021, Integrated modelling to support analysis of COVID-19 impacts on London's water system and in-river water quality, Frontiers in Water, Vol: 3, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2624-9375

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens of the United Kingdom were required to stay at home for many months in 2020. In the weeks before and months following lockdown, including when it was not being enforced, citizens were advised to stay at home where possible. As a result, in a megacity such as London, where long-distance commuting is common, spatial and temporal changes to patterns of water demand are inevitable. This, in turn, may change where people’s waste is treated and ultimately impact the in-river quality of effluent receiving waters. To assess large scale impacts, such as COVID-19, at the city scale, an integrated modelling approach that captures everything between households and rivers is needed. A framework to achieve this is presented in this study and used to explore changes in water use and the associated impacts on wastewater treatment and in-river quality as a result of government and societal responses to COVID-19. Our modelling results revealed significant changes to household water consumption under a range of impact scenarios, however, they only showed significant impacts on pollutant concentrations in household wastewater were in central London. Pollutant concentrations in rivers simulated by the model were most sensitive in the tributaries of the River Thames, highlighting the vulnerability of smaller rivers and the important role that they play in diluting pollution. Modelled ammonia and phosphates were found to be the pollutants that rivers were most sensitive to because their main source in urban rivers is domestic wastewater that was significantly altered during the imposed mobility restrictions. A model evaluation showed that we can accurately validate individual model components (i.e., water demand generator) and 30emphasised need for continuous water quality measurements. Ultimately, the work provides a basis for further developments of water systems integration approaches to project changes under never-before seen scenarios.

Journal article

Upton KA, Jackson CR, Butler AP, Jones MAet al., 2020, An integrated modelling approach for assessing the effect of multiscale complexity on groundwater source yields, JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, Vol: 588, ISSN: 0022-1694

Journal article

Islam MA, Hoque MA, Ahmed KM, Butler APet al., 2019, Impact of climate change and land use on groundwater salinization in southern Bangladesh-implications for other Asian deltas, Environmental Management (New York): an international journal for decision-makers, scientists and environmental auditors, Vol: 64, Pages: 640-649, ISSN: 0364-152X

Pervasive salinity in soil and water is affecting agricultural yield and the health of millions of delta dwellers in Asia. This is also being exacerbated by climate change through increases in sea level and tropical storm surges. One consequence of this has been a widespread introduction of salt water shrimp farming. Here, we show, using field data and modeling, how changes in climate and land use are likely to result in increased salinization of shallow groundwater in SE Asian mega-deltas. We also explore possible adaptation options. We find that possible future increase of episodic inundation events, combined with salt water shrimp farming, will cause rapid salinization of groundwater in the region making it less suitable for drinking water and irrigation. However, modified land use and water management practices can mitigate the impacts on groundwater, as well as the overlying soil, from future salinization. The study therefore provides guidance for adaptation planning to reduce future salinization in Asian deltas.

Journal article

Weaver KC, Hoque MA, Amin SM, Markússon SH, Butler APet al., 2019, Validation of basaltic glass adsorption capabilities from geothermal arsenic in a basaltic aquifer: A case study from Bjarnarflag power Station, Iceland, Geoscience Frontiers, Vol: 10, Pages: 1743-1753, ISSN: 1674-9871

Arsenic is a carcinogen known for its acute toxicity to organisms. Geothermal waters are commonly high in arsenic, as shown at the Bjarnarflag Power Plant, Iceland (∼224 μg/kg of solvent). Development of geothermal energy requires adequate disposal of arsenic-rich waters into groundwater/geothermal systems. The outcome of arsenic transport models that assess the effect of geothermal effluent on the environment and ecosystems may be influenced by the sensitivity of hydraulic parameters. However, previous such studies in Iceland do not consider the sensitivity of hydraulic parameters and thereby the interpretations remain unreliable. Here we used the Lake Mývatn basaltic aquifer system as a case study to identify the sensitive hydraulic parameters and assess their role in arsenic transport. We develop a one-dimensional reactive transport model (PHREEQC ver. 2.), using geochemical data from Bjarnarflag, Iceland. In our model, arsenite (H 3 AsO 3 ) was predicted to be the dominant species of inorganic arsenic in both groundwater and geothermal water. Dilution reduced arsenic concentration below ∼5 μg/kg. Adsorption reduced the residual contamination below ∼0.4 μg/kg at 250 m along transect. Based on our modelling, we found volumetric input to be the most sensitive parameter in the model. In addition, the adsorption strength of basaltic glass was such that the physical hydrogeological parameters, namely: groundwater velocity and longitudinal dispersivity had little influence on the concentration profile.

Journal article

MacAllister DJ, Graham MT, Vinogradov J, Butler AP, Jackson Met al., 2019, Characterising the self-potential response to concentration gradients in heterogeneous sub-surface environments, Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth, Vol: 124, Pages: 7918-7933, ISSN: 2169-9356

Self‐potential (SP) measurements can be used to characterise and monitor, in real‐time, fluid movement and behaviour in the sub‐surface. The electrochemical exclusion‐diffusion (EED) potential, one component of SP, arises when concentration gradients exist in porous media. Such concentration gradients are of concern in coastal and contaminated aquifers, and oil and gas reservoirs. It is essential that estimates of EED potential are made prior to conducting SP investigations in complex environments with heterogeneous geology and salinity contrasts, such as the UK Chalk coastal aquifer. Here, we report repeatable laboratory estimates of the EED potential of chalk and marls using natural groundwater (GW), seawater (SW), deionised (DI) water and 5 M NaCl. In all cases the EED potential of chalk was positive (using a GW/SW concentration gradient the EED potential was c.14 to 22 mV), with an increased deviation from the diffusion limit at the higher salinity contrast. Despite the relatively small pore size of chalk (c.1 μm), it is dominated by the diffusion potential and has a low exclusion‐efficiency, even at large salinity contrasts. Marl samples have a higher exclusion‐efficiency which is of sufficient magnitude to reverse the polarity of the EED potential (using a GW/SW concentration gradient the EED potential was c.‐7 to ‐12 mV) with respect to the chalk samples. Despite the complexity of the natural samples used, the method produced repeatable results. We also show that first order estimates of the exclusion‐efficiency can be made using SP logs, supporting the parameterisation of the model reported in Graham et al. (2018), and that derived values for marls are consistent with the laboratory experiments, while values derived for hardgrounds based on field data indicate a similarly high exclusion‐efficiency. While this method shows promise in the absence of laboratory measurements, more rigorous estimates should be made where possible and can be conducted following

Journal article

Upton KA, Butler AP, Jackson CR, Mansour Met al., 2019, Modelling boreholes in complex heterogeneous aquifers, Environmental Modelling & Software, Vol: 118, Pages: 48-60, ISSN: 1364-8152

Reliable estimates of the sustainable yield of supply boreholes are critical to ensure that groundwater resources are managed sustainably. Sustainable yields are dependent on the pumped groundwater level in a borehole, how this relates to vertical aquifer heterogeneity, and features of the borehole itself. This paper presents a 3D radial flow model (SPIDERR), based on the Darcy-Forchheimer equation, for simulating the groundwater level response in supply boreholes in unconfined, heterogeneous aquifers. The model provides a tool for investigating the causes of non-linear behaviour in abstraction boreholes, which can have a significant impact on sustainable yields. This is demonstrated by simulating a variable-rate pumping test in a Chalk abstraction borehole. The application suggests the non-linear response to pumping is due to a combination of factors: a reduction in well storage with depth due to changes in the borehole diameter, a reduction in hydraulic conductivity with depth, and non-Darcian flow.

Journal article

Malcolm G, Jackson M, MacAllister DJ, Vinogradov J, Butler APet al., 2018, Self-potential as a predictor of seawater intrusion in coastal groundwater boreholes, Water Resources Research, Vol: 54, Pages: 6055-6071, ISSN: 0043-1397

Monitoring of self‐potentials (SP) in the Chalk of England has shown that a consistent electrical potential gradient exists within a coastal groundwater borehole previously affected by seawater intrusion (SI) and that this gradient is absent in boreholes further inland. Furthermore, a small but characteristic reduction in this gradient was observed several days prior to SI occurring. We present results from a combined hydrodynamic and electrodynamic model, which matches the observed phenomena for the first time and sheds light on the source mechanisms for the spatial and temporal distribution of SP. The model predictions are highly sensitive to the relative contribution of electrochemical exclusion and diffusion potentials, the ‘exclusion efficiency’, in different rock strata. Geoelectric heterogeneity, largely due to marls and hardgrounds with a relatively high exclusion efficiency, was the key factor in controlling the magnitude of the modelled SP gradient ahead of the saline front and its evolution prior to breakthrough. The model results suggest that, where sufficient geoelectric heterogeneity exists, borehole SP may be used as an early warning mechanism for SI.

Journal article

Todman LC, Chhang A, Riordan HJ, Brooks D, Butler AP, Templeton MRet al., 2018, Soil osmotic potential and its effect on vapor flow from a pervaporative irrigation membrane, Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol: 144, ISSN: 0733-9372

Pervaporative irrigation is a membrane technology that can be used for desalination and subsurface irrigation simultaneously. To irrigate, the tube-shaped polymer membrane is buried in soil and filled with water. Because of the membrane transport process, water enters the soil in the vapor phase, drawn across the membrane when the relative humidity in the air-filled pores is low. Soils are typically humid environments; however, the presence of hygroscopic compounds such as fertilizers decreases the humidity. For example, at 20°C the humidity in air in equilibrium above a saturated ammonium nitrate solution is 63%. Here, experiments showed that the presence of fertilizers in sand increased the water flux across the membrane by an order of magnitude. An expression for vapor sorption into sand containing different hygroscopic compounds was developed and combined with a model of vapor and liquid flow in soil. The success of the model in simulating experimental results suggests that the proposed mechanism, adsorption of moisture from the vapor phase by hygroscopic compounds, explains the observed increase in the flux from the irrigation system.

Journal article

Rahman AKMM, Ahmed KM, Butler AP, Hoque MAet al., 2018, Influence of surface geology and micro-scale land use on the shallow subsurface salinity in deltaic coastal areas: a case from southwest Bangladesh, Environmental Earth Sciences, Vol: 77, ISSN: 1866-6280

Salinity, both in soil and water, is a ubiquitous problem in coastal Bangladesh, particularly in the southwest. Salinity varies at the local scale (5–10 m), but the relative roles of land use and surface geology on salinity variation in near-surface (< 5 m) groundwater are not fully understood. Surface geology, land use and salinity in near-surface (ca. 3 m) groundwater at two small sites (each 0.05 km2) were explored in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh. The sediments in the near-surface at both sites are fine and hydrometer analyses of cored samples indicate the dominance of silty clay (70%) along with very fine sand (5%), sandy clay (15%) and clay (10%) materials. Salinity variation in near-surface groundwater tends to follow land use rather than surface geology at the scale of our investigations. The study provides evidence of the influence of land use on the near-surface salinity variation and indicates the importance of land-use planning in salinity management in coastal areas.

Journal article

Hammoud AS, Leung J, Tripathi S, Butler AP, Sule MN, Templeton MRet al., 2018, The impact of latrine contents and emptying practices on nitrogen contamination of well water in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, AIMS Environmental Science, Vol: 5, Pages: 143-153, ISSN: 2372-0352

Leaching of nitrogen-containing compounds (e.g., ammonia, nitrate) from pit latrines and seepage tanks into groundwater may pose health risks, given that groundwater is a significant source for drinking water in many low-income countries. In this study, three communities within Kathmandu, Nepal (Manohara, Kupondole, and Lokanthali) were visited to investigate the impact of pit latrines on groundwater quality, with a focus on understanding the fate of nitrogen-containing compounds specifically. Well water samples were analyzed over two seasons (wet and dry) for their nitrogen content, dissolved oxygen (DO), chemical oxidation demand (COD), and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), and samples collected from within the nearby pits were also analyzed to determine nitrogen content and COD. Hand dug wells were found to be more likely receptors of contamination than tube wells, as expected, with inter-well variations related to the relative redox conditions in the wells. Increased pit-emptying frequency was related to lower levels of nitrogen in the latrines and in the nearest wells, suggesting this may be an effective strategy for reducing the risks of groundwater contamination in such settings, all else being equal.

Journal article

MacAllister DJ, Jackson MD, Butler AP, Vinogradov Jet al., 2018, Remote detection of saline intrusion in a coastal aquifer using borehole measurements of self potential, Water Resources Research, Vol: 54, Pages: 1669-1687, ISSN: 0043-1397

Two years of self‐potential (SP) measurements were made in a monitoring borehole in the coastal UK Chalk aquifer. The borehole SP data showed a persistent gradient with depth, and temporal variations with a tidal power spectrum consistent with ocean tides. No gradient with depth was observed at a second coastal monitoring borehole ca. 1 km further inland, and no gradient or tidal power spectrum were observed at an inland site ca. 80 km from the coast. Numerical modeling suggests that the SP gradient recorded in the coastal monitoring borehole is dominated by the exclusion‐diffusion potential, which arises from the concentration gradient across a saline front in close proximity to, but not intersecting, the base of the borehole. No such saline front is present at the two other monitoring sites. Modeling further suggests that the ocean tidal SP response in the borehole, measured prior to breakthrough of saline water, is dominated by the exclusion‐diffusion potential across the saline front, and that the SP fluctuations are due to the tidal movement of the remote front. The electrokinetic potential, caused by changes in hydraulic head across the tide, is one order of magnitude too small to explain the observed SP data. The results suggest that in coastal aquifers, the exclusion‐diffusion potential plays a dominant role in borehole SP when a saline front is nearby. The SP gradient with depth indicates the close proximity of the saline front to the borehole and changes in SP at the borehole reflect changes in the location of the saline front. Thus, SP monitoring can be used to facilitate more proactive management of abstraction and saline intrusion in coastal aquifers.

Journal article

Mathias SA, Sorensen JPR, Butler AP, 2017, Soil moisture data as a constraint for groundwater recharge estimation, Journal of Hydrology, Vol: 552, Pages: 258-266, ISSN: 0022-1694

Estimating groundwater recharge rates is important for water resource management studies. Modeling approaches to forecast groundwater recharge typically require observed historic data to assist calibration. It is generally not possible to observe groundwater recharge rates directly. Therefore, in the past, much effort has been invested to record soil moisture content (SMC) data, which can be used in a water balance calculation to estimate groundwater recharge. In this context, SMC data is measured at different depths and then typically integrated with respect to depth to obtain a single set of aggregated SMC values, which are used as an estimate of the total water stored within a given soil profile. This article seeks to investigate the value of such aggregated SMC data for conditioning groundwater recharge models in this respect. A simple modeling approach is adopted, which utilizes an emulation of Richards’ equation in conjunction with a soil texture pedotransfer function. The only unknown parameters are soil texture. Monte Carlo simulation is performed for four different SMC monitoring sites. The model is used to estimate both aggregated SMC and groundwater recharge. The impact of conditioning the model to the aggregated SMC data is then explored in terms of its ability to reduce the uncertainty associated with recharge estimation. Whilst uncertainty in soil texture can lead to significant uncertainty in groundwater recharge estimation, it is found that aggregated SMC is virtually insensitive to soil texture.

Journal article

Scheelbeek P, Chowdhury MAH, Haines A, Alam D, Hoque MA, Butler AP, Khan AE, Mojumder SK, Blangiardo MAG, Elliott P, Vineis Pet al., 2017, Drinking water salinity and raised blood pressure: evidence from a cohort study in coastal Bangladesh, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0091-6765

BACKGROUND: Millions of coastal inhabitants in Southeast Asia have been experiencing increasing sodium concentrations in their drinking-water sources, likely partially due to climate change. High (dietary) sodium intake has convincingly been proven to increase risk of hypertension; it remains unknown, however, whether consumption of sodium in drinking water could have similar effects on health. OBJECTIVES: We present the results of a cohort study in which we assessed the effects of drinking-water sodium (DWS) on blood pressure (BP) in coastal populations in Bangladesh. METHODS: DWS, BP, and information on personal, lifestyle, and environmental factors were collected from 581 participants. We used generalized linear latent and mixed methods to model the effects of DWS on BP and assessed the associations between changes in DWS and BP when participants experienced changing sodium levels in water, switched from "conventional" ponds or tube wells to alternatives [managed aquifer recharge (MAR) and rainwater harvesting] that aimed to reduce sodium levels, or experienced a combination of these changes. RESULTS: DWS concentrations were highly associated with BP after adjustments for confounding factors. Furthermore, for each 100 mg/L reduction in sodium in drinking water, systolic/diastolic BP was lower on average by 0.95/0.57 mmHg, and odds of hypertension were lower by 14%. However, MAR did not consistently lower sodium levels. CONCLUSIONS: DWS is an important source of daily sodium intake in salinity-affected areas and is a risk factor for hypertension. Considering the likely increasing trend in coastal salinity, prompt action is required. Because MAR showed variable effects, alternative technologies for providing reliable, safe, low-sodium fresh water should be developed alongside improvements in MAR and evaluated in "real-life" salinity-affected settings.

Journal article

Habib A, Sorensen JPR, Bloomfield JP, Muchan K, Newell AJ, Butler APet al., 2017, Temporal scaling phenomena in groundwater-floodplain systems using robust detrended fluctuation analysis, Journal of Hydrology, Vol: 549, Pages: 715-730, ISSN: 0022-1694

In order to determine objectively the fractal behaviour of a time series, and to facilitate potential future attempts to assess model performance by incorporating fractal behaviour, a multi-order robust detrended fluctuation analysis (r-DFAn) procedure is developed herein. The r-DFAn procedure allows for robust and automated quantification of mono-fractal behaviour. The fractal behaviour is quantified with three parts: a global scaling exponent, crossovers, and local scaling exponents. The robustness of the r-DFAn procedure is established by the systematic use of robust regression, piecewise linear regression, Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) and Multiple Comparison Procedure to determine statistically significant scaling exponents and optimum crossover locations. The MATLAB code implementing the r-DFAn procedure has also been open sourced to enable reproducible results.r-DFAn will be illustrated on a synthetic signal after which is used to analyse high-resolution hydrologic data; although the r-DFAn procedure is not limited to hydrological or geophysical time series. The hydrological data are 4 year-long datasets (January 2012 to January 2016) of 1-min groundwater level, river stage, groundwater and river temperature, and 15-min precipitation and air temperature, at Wallingford, UK. The datasets are analysed in both time and fractal domains. The study area is a shallow riparian aquifer in hydraulic connection to River Thames, which traverses the site. The unusually high resolution datasets, along with the responsive nature of the aquifer, enable detailed examination of the various data and their interconnections in both time- and fractal-domains.

Journal article

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