Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 91–105, 2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 91–105, 2011

Research article 13 Jan 2011

Research article | 13 Jan 2011

Evaluation of global continental hydrology as simulated by the Land-surface Processes and eXchanges Dynamic Global Vegetation Model

S. J. Murray1, P. N. Foster1, and I. C. Prentice1,2,3 S. J. Murray et al.
  • 1QUEST, School of Earth Sciences, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ, UK
  • 2Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
  • 3Grantham Institute of Climate Change, and Division of Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot, SL5 7PY, UK

Abstract. Global freshwater resources are sensitive to changes in climate, land cover and population density and distribution. The Land-surface Processes and eXchanges Dynamic Global Vegetation Model is a recent development of the Lund-Potsdam-Jena model with improved representation of fire-vegetation interactions. It allows simultaneous consideration of the effects of changes in climate, CO2 concentration, natural vegetation and fire regime shifts on the continental hydrological cycle. Here the model is assessed for its ability to simulate large-scale spatial and temporal runoff patterns, in order to test its suitability for modelling future global water resources. Comparisons are made against observations of streamflow and a composite dataset of modelled and observed runoff (1986–1995) and are also evaluated against soil moisture data and the Palmer Drought Severity Index. The model captures the main features of the geographical distribution of global runoff, but tends to overestimate runoff in much of the Northern Hemisphere (where this can be somewhat accounted for by freshwater consumption and the unrealistic accumulation of the simulated winter snowpack in permafrost regions) and the southern tropics. Interannual variability is represented reasonably well at the large catchment scale, as are seasonal flow timings and monthly high and low flow events. Further improvements to the simulation of intra-annual runoff might be achieved via the addition of river flow routing. Overestimates of runoff in some basins could likely be corrected by the inclusion of transmission losses and direct-channel evaporation.