A global hydrological model for deriving water availability indicators: model tuning and validation
Freshwater availability has been recognized as a global issue, and its consistent quantification not only in individual river basins but also at the global scale is required to support the sustainable use of water. The WaterGAP Global Hydrology Model WGHM, which is a submodel of the global water use and availability model WaterGAP 2, computes surface runoff, groundwater recharge and river discharge at a spatial resolution of 0.5°. WGHM is based on the best global data sets currently available, and simulates the reduction of river discharge by human water consumption. In order to obtain a reliable estimate of water availability, it is tuned against observed discharge at 724 gauging stations, which represent 50% of the global land area and 70% of the actively discharging area. For 50% of these stations, the tuning of one model parameter was sufficient to achieve that simulated and observed long-term average discharges agree within 1%. For the rest, however, additional corrections had to be applied to the simulated runoff and discharge values. WGHM not only computes the long-term average water resources of a country or a drainage basin but also water availability indicators that take into account the interannual and seasonal variability of runoff and discharge. The reliability of the modeling results is assessed by comparing observed and simulated discharges at the tuning stations and at selected other stations. The comparison shows that WGHM is able to calculate reliable and meaningful indicators of water availability at a high spatial resolution. In particular, the 90% reliable monthly discharge is simulated well. Therefore, WGHM is suited for application in global assessments related to water security, food security and freshwater ecosystems.