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- Advances and visions in large-scale hydrological modelling : findings from the 11th Workshop on Large-Scale Hydrological Modelling (2008)
- Large-scale hydrological modelling has become increasingly wide-spread during the last decade. An annual workshop series on large-scale hydrological modelling has provided, since 1997, a forum to the German-speaking community for discussing recent developments and achievements in this research area. In this paper we present the findings from the 2007 workshop which focused on advances and visions in large-scale hydrological modelling. We identify the state of the art, difficulties and research perspectives with respect to the themes "sensitivity of model results", "integrated modelling" and "coupling of processes in hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere". Some achievements in large-scale hydrological modelling during the last ten years are presented together with a selection of remaining challenges for the future.
- Impact of climate change on freshwater ecosystems: a global-scale analysis of ecologically relevant river flow alterations (2010)
- River flow regimes, including long-term average flows, seasonality, low flows, high flows and other types of flow variability, play an important role for freshwater ecosystems. Thus, climate change affects freshwater ecosystems not only by increased temperatures but also by altered river flow regimes. However, with one exception, transferable quantitative relations between flow alterations and ecological responses have not yet been derived. While discharge decreases are generally considered to be detrimental for ecosystems, the effect of future discharge increases is unclear. As a first step towards a global-scale analysis of climate change impacts on freshwater ecosystems, we quantified the impact of climate change on five ecologically relevant river flow indicators, using the global water model WaterGAP 2.1g to simulate monthly time series of river discharge with a spatial resolution of 0.5 degrees. Four climate change scenarios based on two global climate models and two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios were evaluated. We compared the impact of climate change by the 2050s to the impact of water withdrawals and dams on natural flow regimes that had occurred by 2002. Climate change was computed to alter seasonal flow regimes significantly (i.e. by more than 10%) on 90% of the global land area (excluding Greenland and Antarctica), as compared to only one quarter of the land area that had suffered from significant seasonal flow regime alterations due to dams and water withdrawals. Due to climate change, the timing of the maximum mean monthly river discharge will be shifted by at least one month on one third on the global land area, more often towards earlier months (mainly due to earlier snowmelt). Dams and withdrawals had caused comparable shifts on less than 5% of the land area only. Long-term average annual river discharge is predicted to significantly increase on one half of the land area, and to significantly decrease on one quarter. Dams and withdrawals had led to significant decreases on one sixth of the land area, and nowhere to increases. Thus, by the 2050s, climate change may have impacted ecologically relevant river flow characteristics more strongly than dams and water withdrawals have up to now. The only exception refers to the decrease of the statistical low flow Q90, with significant decreases both by past water withdrawals and future climate change on one quarter of the land area. However, dam impacts are likely underestimated by our study. Considering long-term average river discharge, only a few regions, including Spain, Italy, Iraq, Southern India, Western China, the Australian Murray Darling Basin and the High Plains Aquifer in the USA, all of them with extensive irrigation, are expected to be less affected by climate change than by past anthropogenic flow alterations. In some of these regions, climate change will exacerbate the discharge reductions, while in others climate change provides opportunities for reducing past reductions. Emissions scenario B2 leads to only slightly reduced alterations of river flow regimes as compared to scenario A2 even though emissions are much smaller. The differences in alterations resulting from the two applied climate models are larger than those resulting from the two emissions scenarios. Based on general knowledge about ecosystem responses to flow alterations and data related to flow alterations by dams and water withdrawals, we expect that the computed climate change induced river flow alterations will impact freshwater ecosystems more strongly than past anthropogenic alterations.
- Global-scale analysis of river flow alterations due to water withdrawals and reservoirs (2009)
- Global-scale information on natural river flows and anthropogenic river flow alterations is required to identify areas where aqueous ecosystems are expected to be strongly degraded. Such information can support the identification of environmental flow guidelines and a sustainable water management that balances the water demands of humans and ecosystems. This study presents the first global assessment of the anthropogenic alteration of river flow regimes, in particular of flow variability, by water withdrawals and dams/reservoirs. Six ecologically relevant flow indicators were quantified using an improved version of the global water model WaterGAP. WaterGAP simulated, with a spatial resolution of 0.5 degree, river discharge as affected by human water withdrawals and dams around the year 2000, as well as naturalized discharge without this type of human interference. Compared to naturalized conditions, long-term average global discharge into oceans and internal sinks has decreased by 2.7% due to water withdrawals, and by 0.8% due to dams. Mainly due to irrigation, long-term average river discharge and statistical low flow Q90 (monthly river discharge that is exceeded in 9 out of 10 months) have decreased by more than 10% on one sixth and one quarter of the global land area (excluding Antarctica and Greenland), respectively. Q90 has increased significantly on only 5% of the land area, downstream of reservoirs. Due to both water withdrawals and reservoirs, seasonal flow amplitude has decreased significantly on one sixth of the land area, while interannual variability has increased on one quarter of the land area mainly due to irrigation. It has decreased on only 8% of the land area, in areas downstream of reservoirs where consumptive water use is low. The impact of reservoirs is likely underestimated by our study as small reservoirs are not taken into account. Areas most affected by anthropogenic river flow alterations are the Western and Central USA, Mexico, the western coast of South America, the Mediterranean rim, Southern Africa, the semi-arid and arid countries of the Near East and Western Asia, Pakistan and India, Northern China and the Australian Murray-Darling Basin, as well as some Arctic rivers. Due to a large number of uncertainties related e.g. to the estimation of water use and reservoir operation rules, the analysis is expected to provide only first estimates of river flow alterations that should be refined in the future.
- The Global Crop Water Model (GCWM) : documentation and first results for irrigated crops (2008)
- A new global crop water model was developed to compute blue (irrigation) water requirements and crop evapotranspiration from green (precipitation) water at a spatial resolution of 5 arc minutes by 5 arc minutes for 26 different crop classes. The model is based on soil water balances performed for each crop and each grid cell. For the first time a new global data set was applied consisting of monthly growing areas of irrigated crops and related cropping calendars. Crop water use was computed for irrigated land and the period 1998 – 2002. In this documentation report the data sets used as model input and methods used in the model calculations are described, followed by a presentation of the first results for blue and green water use at the global scale, for countries and specific crops. Additionally the simulated seasonal distribution of water use on irrigated land is presented. The computed model results are compared to census based statistical information on irrigation water use and to results of another crop water model developed at FAO.
- Global dataset of monthly growing areas of 26 irrigated crops : version 1.0 (2008)
- A data set of monthly growing areas of 26 irrigated crops (MGAG-I) and related crop calendars (CC-I) was compiled for 402 spatial entities. The selection of the crops consisted of all major food crops including regionally important ones (wheat, rice, maize, barley, rye, millet, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower, potatoes, cassava, sugar cane, sugar beets, oil palm, rapeseed/canola, groundnuts/peanuts, pulses, citrus, date palm, grapes/vine, cocoa, coffee), major water-consuming crops (cotton), and unspecified other crops (other perennial crops, other annual crops, managed grassland). The data set refers to the time period 1998-2002 and has a spatial resolution of 5 arc minutes by 5 arc minutes which is 8 km by 8 km at the equator. This is the first time that a data set of cell-specific irrigated growing areas of irrigated crops with this spatial resolution was created. The data set is consistent to the irrigated area and water use statistics of the AQUASTAT programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (http://www.fao.org/ag/agl/aglw/aquastat/main/index.stm) and the Global Map of Irrigation Areas (GMIA) (http://www.fao.org/ag/agl/aglw/aquastat/irrigationmap/index.stm). At the cell-level it was tried to maximise consistency to the cropland extent and cropland harvested area from the Department of Geography and Earth System Science Program of the McGill University at Montreal, Quebec, Canada and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA (http://www.geog.mcgill.ca/~nramankutty/ Datasets/Datasets.html and http://geomatics.geog.mcgill.ca/~navin/pub/Data/175crops2000/). The consistency between the grid product and the input data was quantified. MGAG-I and CC-I are fully consistent to each other on entity level. For input data other than CC-I, the consistency of MGAG-I on cell level was calculated. The consistency of MGAG-I with respect to the area equipped for irrigation (AEI) of GMIA and to the cropland extent of SAGE was characterised by the sum of the cell-specific maximum difference between the MGAG-I monthly total irrigated area and the reference area when the latter was exceeded in the grid cell. The consistency of the harvested area contained in MGAG-I with respect to SAGE harvested area was characterised by the crop-specific sum of the cell-specific difference between MGAG-I harvested area and the SAGE harvested area when the latter was exceeded in the grid cell. In all three cases, the sums are the excess areas that should not have been distributed under the assumption that the input data were correct. Globally, this cell-level excess of MGAG-I as compared to AEI is 331,304 ha or only about 0.12 % of the global AEI of 278.9 Mha found in the original grid. The respective cell-level excess of MGAG-I as compared to the SAGE cropland extent is 32.2 Mha, corresponding to about 2.2 % of the total cropland area. The respective cell-level excess of MGAG-I as compared to the SAGE harvested area is 27 % of the irrigated harvested area, or 11.5 % of the AEI. In a further step that will be published later also rainfed areas were compiled in order to form the Global data set of monthly irrigated and rainfed crop areas around the year 2000 (MIRCA2000). The data set can be used for global and continental-scale studies on food security and water use. In the future, it will be improved, e.g. with a better spatial resolution of crop calendars and an improved crop distribution algorithm. The MIRCA2000 data set, its full documentation together with future updates will be freely available through the following long-term internet site: http://www.geo.uni-frankfurt.de/ipg/ag/dl/forschung/MIRCA/index.html. The research presented here was funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) within the framework of the research project entitled "Consistent assessment of global green, blue and virtual water fluxes in the context of food production: regional stresses and worldwide teleconnections". The authors thank Navin Ramankutty and Chad Monfreda for making available the current SAGE datasets on cropland extent (Ramankutty et al., 2008) and harvested area (Monfreda et al., 2008) prior to their publication.
- Global-scale modeling of groundwater recharge (2007)
- Long-term average groundwater recharge, which is equivalent to renewable groundwater resources, is the major limiting factor for the sustainable use of groundwater. Compared to surface water resources, groundwater resources are more protected from pollution, and their use is less restricted by seasonal and inter-annual flow variations. To support water management in a globalized world, it is necessary to estimate groundwater recharge at the global scale. Here, we present a best estimate of global-scale long-term average diffuse groundwater recharge (i.e. renewable groundwater resources) that has been calculated by the most recent version of the WaterGAP Global Hydrology Model WGHM (spatial resolution of 0.5° by 0.5°, daily time steps). The estimate was obtained using two state-of-the art global data sets of gridded observed precipitation that we corrected for measurement errors, which also allowed to quantify the uncertainty due to these equally uncertain data sets. The standard WGHM groundwater recharge algorithm was modified for semi-arid and arid regions, based on 15 independent estimates of diffuse groundwater recharge, which lead to an unbiased estimation of groundwater recharge in these regions. WGHM was tuned against observed long-term average river discharge at 1235 gauging stations by adjusting, individually for each basin, the partitioning of precipitation into evapotranspiration and total runoff. We estimate that global groundwater recharge was 12 666 km3/yr for the climate nor20 mal 1961–1990, i.e. 32% of total renewable water resources. In semi-arid and arid regions, mountainous regions, permafrost regions and in the Asian Monsoon region, groundwater recharge accounts for a lower fraction of total runoff, which makes these regions particularly vulnerable to seasonal and inter-annual precipitation variability and water pollution. Average per-capita renewable groundwater resources of countries vary 25 between 8m3/(capita yr) for Egypt to more than 1 million m3/(capita yr) for the Falkland Islands, the global average in the year 2000 being 2091m3/(capita yr). Regarding the uncertainty of estimated groundwater resources due to the two precipitation data sets, deviation from the mean is less than 1% for 50 out of the 165 countries considered, between 1 and 5% for 62, between 5 and 20% for 43 and between 20 and 80% for 10 countries. Deviations at the grid scale can be much larger, ranging between 0 and 186 mm/yr.
- Value of river discharge data for global-scale hydrological modeling (2007)
- his paper investigates the value of observed river discharge data for global-scale hydrological modeling of a number of flow characteristics that are required for assessing water resources, flood risk and habitat alteration of aqueous ecosystems. An improved version of WGHM (WaterGAP Global Hydrology Model) was tuned in a way that simulated and observed long-term average river discharges at each station become equal, using either the 724-station dataset (V1) against which former model versions were tuned or a new dataset (V2) of 1235 stations and often longer time series. WGHM is tuned by adjusting one model parameter (γ) that affects runoff generation from land areas, and, where necessary, by applying one or two correction factors, which correct the total runoff in a sub-basin (areal correction factor) or the discharge at the station (station correction factor). The study results are as follows. (1) Comparing V2 to V1, the global land area covered by tuning basins increases by 5%, while the area where the model can be tuned by only adjusting γ increases by 8% (546 vs. 384 stations). However, the area where a station correction factor (and not only an areal correction factor) has to be applied more than doubles (389 vs. 93 basins), which is a strong drawback as use of a station correction factor makes discharge discontinuous at the gauge and inconsistent with runoff in the basin. (2) The value of additional discharge information for representing the spatial distribution of long-term average discharge (and thus renewable water resources) with WGHM is high, particularly for river basins outside of the V1 tuning area and for basins where the average sub-basin area has decreased by at least 50% in V2 as compared to V1. For these basins, simulated long-term average discharge would differ from the observed one by a factor of, on average, 1.8 and 1.3, respectively, if the additional discharge information were not used for tuning. The value tends to be higher in semi-arid and snow-dominated regions where hydrological models are less reliable than in humid areas. The deviation of the other simulated flow characteristics (e.g. low flow, inter-annual variability and seasonality) from the observed values also decreases significantly, but this is mainly due to the better representation of average discharge but not of variability. (3) The optimal sub-basin size for tuning depends on the modeling purpose. On the one hand, small basins between 9000 and 20 000 km2 show a much stronger improvement in model performance due to tuning than the larger basins, which is related to the lower model performance (with and without tuning), with basins over 60 000 km2 performing best. On the other hand, tuning of small basins decreases model consistency, as almost half of them require a station correction factor.
- 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.
- Global modelling of continental water storage changes : sensitivity to different climate data sets (2007)
- Since 2002, the GRACE satellite mission provides estimates of the Earth's dynamic gravity field with unprecedented accuracy. Differences between monthly gravity fields contain a clear hydrological signal due to continental water storage changes. In order to evaluate GRACE results, the state-of-the-art WaterGAP Global Hydrological Model (WGHM) is applied to calculate terrestrial water storage changes on a global scale. WGHM is driven by different climate data sets to analyse especially the influence of different precipitation data on calculated water storage. The data sets used are the CRU TS 2.1 climate data set, the GPCC Full Data Product for precipitation and data from the ECMWF integrated forecast system. A simple approach for precipitation correction is introduced. WGHM results are then compared with GRACE data. The use of different precipitation data sets leads to considerable differences in computed water storage change for a large number of river basins. Comparing model results with GRACE observations shows a good spatial correlation and also a good agreement in phase. However, seasonal variations of water storage as derived from GRACE tend to be significantly larger than those computed by WGHM, regardless of which climate data set is used.
- Development and validation of the global map of irrigation areas (2005)
- A new version of a digital global map of irrigation areas was developed by combining irrigation statistics for 10825 sub-national statistical units and geo-spatial information on the location and extent of irrigation schemes. The map shows the percentage of each 5 arc minute by 5 arc minute cell that was equipped for irrigation around the year 2000. It is thus an important data set for global studies related to water and land use. This paper describes the data set and the mapping methodology and gives, for the first time, an estimate of the map quality at the scale of countries, world regions and the globe. Two indicators of map quality were developed for this purpose, and the map was compared to irrigated areas as derived from two remote sensing based global land cover inventories. We plan to further improve that data set; therefore comments, information and data that might contribute to that effort are highly welcome.