Assessing the water balance of tropical peatlands by using the inverse groundwater modelling approach

Henk Ritzema and Herco Jansen

After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress: Tropical Peatlands

groundwater-modelling, hydrology, tropical-peatland, water-balance

Ritzema et al. 2008: Assessing the water balance of tropical peatlands


The understanding and proper management of the groundwater system are key factors for sustainable land development and effective soil and nature conservation in tropical peatlands. To assess the water balance in tropical peat swamps, a methodology based on a groundwater-balance approach was developed. Two groundwater modelling packages, MODFLOW and SIMGRO, were applied to quantify the groundwater recharge by assessing the water balance in three peat swamps in South-east Asia. As water flows in tropical peatlands are extremely difficult to measure, the models were calibrated using rainfall and groundwater levels. This inverse modelling approach required fewer data than the traditional water-balance method.