Essentially all hydrogeological processes are strongly influenced by the subsurface spatial heterogeneity and the temporal variation of environmental conditions, hydraulic properties, and solute concentrations. This spatial and temporal variability generally leads to effective behaviors and emerging phenomena that cannot be predicted from conventional approaches based on homogeneous assumptions and models. However, it is not always clear when, why, how, and at what scale the 4D (3D + time) nature of the subsurface needs to be considered in hydrogeological monitoring, modeling, and applications. In this paper, we discuss the interest and potential for the monitoring and characterization of spatial and temporal variability, including 4D imaging, in a series of hydrogeological processes: (1) groundwater fluxes, (2) solute transport and reaction, (3) vadose zone dynamics, and (4) surface–subsurface water interactions. We first identify the main challenges related to the coupling of spatial and temporal fluctuations for these processes. We then highlight recent innovations that have led to significant breakthroughs in high-resolution space–time imaging and modeling the characterization, monitoring, and modeling of these spatial and temporal fluctuations. We finally propose a classification of processes and applications at different scales according to their need and potential for high-resolution space–time imaging. We thus advocate a more systematic characterization of the dynamic and 3D nature of the subsurface for a series of critical processes and emerging applications. This calls for the validation of 4D imaging techniques at highly instrumented observatories and the harmonization of open databases to share hydrogeological data sets in their 4D components.
- Programområde 2: Vandressourcer
- Programområde 5: Natur og klima