University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Sands of Time: Developing and evaluating groundwater forecasts in Wisconsin’s Central Sands

Funding Agency: University of Wisconsin-Madison System Applied Research Grant

Award Period: 2016-2018

Wisconsin’s Central Sands is an important asset to the state from both recreational and agricultural perspectives. The region boasts more than 300 lakes and 800 miles of streams, which are valued by nature enthusiasts, recreationalists, and lakeshore properties. Agriculture is also burgeoning in the region, with 200,000 acres of cranberries, potatoes, and other high-value vegetables contributing an estimated economic impact of $6 billion and 35,000 jobs annually. This production is highly dependent on groundwater sources for supplemental irrigation. It has been widely hypothesized that increasing groundwater sourced irrigation is detrimentally affecting surface water lakes and streams, particularly during dry years. Presently, however, there is no formal groundwater mechanism to manage these competing demands. Season-ahead predictions of growing season precipitation and groundwater are explored as a potential benefit to demand and supply management. We apply local-scale and large-scale hydroclimatic predictors to forecast precipitation and groundwater variability in the Central Sands, including both seasonal characterization and intra-seasonal events (e.g. high precipitation events.) Forecast value to farmers and potential adaptation strategies are also explored.




Wisconsin Central Sands: DNR

PRISM Monthly Precipitation Data: OSU