This study will investigate the issue of water availability for raising water levels in the restoration of wet grassland in agri-environmental schemes and will also provide guidance and development of methods to assess water availability. Research will be performed at the catchment/sub-catchment level, where the link between climate, operational management and water levels in rivers and ditches will be examined, and at the field scale level, where the link between ditch/river water levels, and soil and vegetation will also be examined.
The project will be composed of 5 specific objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Review of key issues relating to restoration and re-creation of wetland sites, and analysis of data from 2 study sites. This will allow the suitability of the 2 sites to be assessed; 2. Determination of precipitation, actual evapotranspiration, soil moisture, groundwater levels and water levels in ditches at 2 study sites over a 2 year period; 3. Formulation, calibration and validation of physically-based deterministic models to simulate water balance and movement using data from 2 study sites. Development of models and preliminary simulations using historical data will proceed during the first year, while calibration will take place once the first year of field data becomes available. Simulations of both wet and dry conditions will be run during the second year and will be finalised when the second year of field data becomes available; 4. Formulation, calibration and validation of simple and intermediate complexity models to simulate and predict water balance using data from 2 study sites; and 5. Use of simple, generally available data together with the modelling results to develop a methodology for estimating water balance and the key features of wetland sites.