GlobWat – a global water balance model to assess water use in irrigated agriculture
Abstract. GlobWat is a freely distributed, global soil water balance model that is used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to assess water use in irrigated agriculture, the main factor behind scarcity of freshwater in an increasing number of regions. The model is based on spatially distributed high-resolution data sets that are consistent at global level and calibrated against values for internal renewable water resources, as published in AQUASTAT, the FAO's global information system on water and agriculture. Validation of the model is done against mean annual river basin outflows.
The water balance is calculated in two steps: first a "vertical" water balance is calculated that includes evaporation from in situ rainfall ("green" water) and incremental evaporation from irrigated crops. In a second stage, a "horizontal" water balance is calculated to determine discharges from river (sub-)basins, taking into account incremental evaporation from irrigation, open water and wetlands ("blue" water). The paper describes the methodology, input and output data, calibration and validation of the model. The model results are finally compared with other global water balance models to assess levels of accuracy and validity.