Estimating groundwater levels using system identification models in Nzhelele and Luvuvhu areas, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Elsevier, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Volume 100, August 2017
Makungo R., Odiyo J.O.

This study was focused on testing the ability of a coupled linear and non-linear system identification model in estimating groundwater levels. System identification provides an alternative approach for estimating groundwater levels in areas that lack data required by physically-based models. It also overcomes the limitations of physically-based models due to approximations, assumptions and simplifications. Daily groundwater levels for 4 boreholes, rainfall and evaporation data covering the period 2005–2014 were used in the study. Seventy and thirty percent of the data were used to calibrate and validate the model, respectively. Correlation coefficient (R), coefficient of determination (R2), root mean square error (RMSE), percent bias (PBIAS), Nash Sutcliffe coefficient of efficiency (NSE) and graphical fits were used to evaluate the model performance. Values for R, R2, RMSE, PBIAS and NSE ranged from 0.8 to 0.99, 0.63 to 0.99, 0.01–2.06 m, −7.18 to 1.16 and 0.68 to 0.99, respectively. Comparisons of observed and simulated groundwater levels for calibration and validation runs showed close agreements. The model performance mostly varied from satisfactory, good, very good and excellent. Thus, the model is able to estimate groundwater levels. The calibrated models can reasonably capture description between input and output variables and can, thus be used to estimate long term groundwater levels.