An overview is presented of scale problems in groundwater flow, with emphasis on upscaling of hydraulic conductivity, being a brief summary of the conventional upscaling approach with some attention paid to recently emerged approaches. The focus is on essential aspects which may be an advantage in comparison to the occasionally extremely extensive summaries presented in the literature. In the present paper the concept of scale is introduced as an indispensable part of system analysis applied to hydrogeology. The concept is illustrated with a simple hydrogeological system for which definitions of four major ingredients of scale are presented: (i) spatial extent and geometry of hydrogeological system, (ii) spatial continuity and granularity of both natural and man-made objects within the system, (iii) duration of the system and (iv) continuity/granularity of natural and man-related variables of groundwater flow system. Scales used in hydrogeology are categorised into five classes: micro-scale – scale of pores, meso-scale – scale of laboratory sample, macro-scale – scale of typical blocks in numerical models of groundwater flow, local-scale – scale of an aquifer/aquitard and regional-scale – scale of series of aquifers and aquitards. Variables, parameters and groundwater flow equations for the three lowest scales, i.e., pore-scale, sample-scale and (numerical) block-scale, are discussed in detail, with the aim to justify physically deterministic procedures of upscaling from finer to coarser scales (stochastic issues of upscaling are not discussed here). Since the procedure of transition from sample-scale to block-scale is physically well based, it is a good candidate for upscaling block-scale models to local-scale models and likewise for upscaling local-scale models to regional-scale models. Also the latest results in downscaling from block-scale to sample scale are briefly referred to.
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