Analytical solution and computer program (FAST) to estimate fluid fluxes from subsurface temperature profiles

Barret Kurylyk, Dylan Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


This study details the derivation and application of a new analytical solution to the one-dimensional, transient conduction-advection equation that is applied to trace vertical subsurface fluid fluxes. The solution employs a flexible initial condition that allows for nonlinear temperature-depth profiles, providing a key improvement over most previous solutions. The boundary condition is composed of any number of superimposed step changes in surface temperature, and thus it accommodates intermittent warming and cooling periods due to long-term changes in climate or land cover. The solution is verified using an established numerical model of coupled groundwater flow and heat transport. A new computer program FAST (Flexible Analytical Solution using Temperature) is also presented to facilitate the inversion of this analytical solution to estimate vertical groundwater flow. The program requires surface temperature history (which can be estimated from historic climate data), subsurface thermal properties, a present-day temperature-depth profile, and reasonable initial conditions. FAST is written in the Python computing language and can be run using a free graphical user interface. Herein, we demonstrate the utility of the analytical solution and FAST using measured subsurface temperature and climate data from the Sendia Plain, Japan. Results from these illustrative examples highlight the influence of the chosen initial and boundary conditions on estimated vertical flow rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-733
Number of pages9
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • climate change
  • groundwater temperature
  • heat as a tracer
  • land cover change
  • thermal regime
  • vertical water flux


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