- Sensitivity of simulated global-scale freshwater fluxes and storages to input data, hydrological model structure, human water use and calibration (2014)
- Global-scale assessments of freshwater fluxes and storages by hydrological models under historic climate conditions are subject to a variety of uncertainties. Using the global hydrological model WaterGAP 2.2, we investigated the sensitivity of simulated freshwater fluxes and water storage variations to five major sources of uncertainty: climate forcing, land cover input, model structure, consideration of human water use and calibration (or no calibration). In a modelling experiment, five variants of the standard version of WaterGAP 2.2 were generated that differed from the standard version only regarding the investigated source of uncertainty. Sensitivity was analyzed by comparing water fluxes and water storage variations computed by the variants to those of the standard version, considering both global averages and grid cell values for the time period 1971–2000. The basin-specific calibration approach for WaterGAP, which forces simulated mean annual river discharge to be equal to observed values at 1319 gauging stations (representing 54% of global land area except Antarctica and Greenland), has the highest effect on modelled water fluxes and leads to the best fit of modelled to observed monthly and seasonal river discharge. Alternative state-of-the-art climate forcings rank second regarding the impact on grid cell specific fluxes and water storage variations, and their impact is ubiquitous and stronger than that of alternative land cover inputs. The diverse model refinements during the last decade lead to an improved fit to observed discharge, and affect globally averaged fluxes and storage values (the latter mainly due to modelling of groundwater depletion) but only affect a relatively small number of grid cells. Considering human water use is important for the global water storage trend (in particular in the groundwater compartment) but impacts on water fluxes are rather local and only important where water use is high. The best fit to observed time series of monthly river discharge (Nash–Sutcliffe criterion) or discharge seasonality is obtained with the standard WaterGAP 2.2 model version which is calibrated and driven by a sequence of two time series of daily observation-based climate forcings, WFD/WFDEI. Discharge computed by a calibrated model version using monthly CRU 3.2 and GPCC v6 climate input reduced the fit to observed discharge for most stations. Taking into account the investigated uncertainties of climate and land cover data, we estimate that the global 1971–2000 discharge into oceans and inland sinks is between 40 000 and 42 000 km3 yr−1. The range is mainly due differences in precipitation data that affect discharge in uncalibrated river basins. Actual evapotranspiration, with approximately 70 000 km3 yr−1, is rather unaffected by climate and land cover in global sum but differs spatially. Human water use is calculated to reduce river discharge by approximately 1000 km3 yr−1. Thus, global renewable water resources are estimated to range between 41 000 and 43 000 km3 yr−1. The climate data sets WFD (available until 2001) and WFDEI (starting in 1979) were found to be inconsistent with respect to short wave radiation data, resulting in strongly different potential evapotranspiration. Global assessments of freshwater fluxes and storages would therefore benefit from the development of a global data set of consistent daily climate forcing from 1900 to current.
- Global-scale estimation of diffuse groundwater recharge : model tuning to local data for semi-arid and arid regions and assessment of climate change impact (2005)
- Groundwater recharge is the major limiting factor for the sustainable use of groundwater. To support water management in a globalized world, it is necessary to estimate, in a spatially resolved way, global-scale groundwater recharge. In this report, improved model estimates of diffuse groundwater recharge at the global-scale, with a spatial resolution of 0.5° by 0.5°, are presented. They are based on calculations of the global hydrological model WGHM (WaterGAP Global Hydrology Model) which, for semi-arid and arid areas of the globe, was tuned against independent point estimates of diffuse groundwater recharge. This has led to a decrease of estimated groundwater recharge under semi-arid and arid conditions as compared to the model results before tuning, and the new estimates are more similar to country level data on groundwater recharge. Using the improved model, the impact of climate change on groundwater recharge was simulated, applying two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios as interpreted by two different climate models.
- Impact of climate change on renewable groundwater resources : assessing the benefits of avoided greenhouse gas emissions using selected CMIP5 climate projections (2013)
- Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to minimize climate change requires very significant societal effort. To motivate this effort, it is important to clarify the benefits of avoided emissions. To this end, we analysed the impact of four emissions scenarios on future renewable groundwater resources, which range from 1600 GtCO2 during the 21st century (RCP2.6) to 7300 GtCO2 (RCP8.5). Climate modelling uncertainty was taken into account by applying the bias-corrected output of a small ensemble of five CMIP5 global climate models (GCM) as provided by the ISI-MIP effort to the global hydrological model WaterGAP. Despite significant climate model uncertainty, the benefits of avoided emissions with respect to renewable groundwater resources (i.e. groundwater recharge (GWR)) are obvious. The percentage of projected global population (SSP2 population scenario) suffering from a significant decrease of GWR of more than 10% by the 2080s as compared to 1971–2000 decreases from 38% (GCM range 27–50%) for RCP8.5 to 24% (11–39%) for RCP2.6. The population fraction that is spared from any significant GWR change would increase from 29% to 47% if emissions were restricted to RCP2.6. Increases of GWR are more likely to occur in areas with below average population density, while GWR decreases of more than 30% affect especially (semi)arid regions, across all GCMs. Considering change of renewable groundwater resources as a function of mean global temperature (GMT) rise, the land area that is affected by GWR decreases of more than 30% and 70% increases linearly with global warming from 0 to 3 ° C. For each degree of GMT rise, an additional 4% of the global land area (except Greenland and Antarctica) is affected by a GWR decrease of more than 30%, and an additional 1% is affected by a decrease of more than 70%.