The simplest water modeling systems treat water molecules as rigid and depend only on non-bonded interactions. Climate changes and altering human pressures on our environment call for us to have foresights about the future sustainability of water resources and thus necessitating the use of water modeling.
Groundwater models are used by hydrogeologists and can be defined as computer models of groundwater flow systems. Groundwater models are utilized to simulate and foretell aquifer conditions. Groundwater modeling research focuses on the development and application of groundwater models to enhance the understanding of hydrological and groundwater processes. Groundwater modeling research also allows future predictions to be made.
Groundwater simulation research is undertaken in collaboration with those research institutes and other universities, industries, environmental regulators, government and non-government organizations who address a broad range of environmental issues including:
- Effects of climate change on groundwater resources
- Impact of CO2 injection and underground storage on water resources
- Changes in groundwater flood and drought occurrence
- Effect of agricultural pollution on water quality
- Quantification of national water resources
- Impacts of groundwater abstraction on rivers
- Development of new public groundwater supplies
- Effectiveness of flood alleviation schemes
- Effectiveness of ground source heating and cooling schemes
- Movement of contaminants through groundwater systems
In addition to several research activities, the geological survey institutes undertake water modeling projects for several commercial clients. Groundwater modeling specialists need to be skilled in both applying existing modeling tools as well as in developing personalized software in order to provide healthy answers to the clients' questions.
Geological survey institutes develop different kinds of groundwater modeling software tools to simulate groundwater systems at a range of scales. To answer various questions related to environmental change, today's research is becoming more interdisciplinary. This entails the integration of models of various compartments of the water cycle. To facilitate this, different software tools are implemented to enable different models to interact with each other. New technologies are being used to link various separate models to those of other environmental software developers. This has been used in the past to simulate the processes that have taken place in Oxford during the fluvial-driven groundwater floods during July 2007.
Various other surveys using groundwater models are also used to predict the effects of various hydrological changes such as irrigation developments on the behavior of the aquifer or groundwater abstraction and are often termed as groundwater simulation models. Nowadays, various groundwater models are also used in different water management plans for urban areas.
A ground-water model's applicability to a real situation depends on the accurateness of the input data and the parameters. As different parameters are reasonably variable in space, expert judgment is required to arrive at representative values. Groundwater models are known to be found in various dimensions - one-dimensional, two-dimensional, three-dimensional and also semi-three-dimensional.
A water simulation's computational cost increases with the number of interaction sites in a water model. When rigid water modeling systems are used in molecular dynamics, an additional cost crops up - related to keeping the structure constrained by using constraint algorithms.