Articles | Volume 22, issue 1
Research article
29 Jan 2018
Research article |  | 29 Jan 2018

A global hydrological simulation to specify the sources of water used by humans

Naota Hanasaki, Sayaka Yoshikawa, Yadu Pokhrel, and Shinjiro Kanae

Abstract. Humans abstract water from various sources to sustain their livelihood and society. Some global hydrological models (GHMs) include explicit schemes of human water abstraction, but the representation and performance of these schemes remain limited. We substantially enhanced the water abstraction schemes of the H08 GHM. This enabled us to estimate water abstraction from six major water sources, namely, river flow regulated by global reservoirs (i.e., reservoirs regulating the flow of the world's major rivers), aqueduct water transfer, local reservoirs, seawater desalination, renewable groundwater, and nonrenewable groundwater. In its standard setup, the model covers the whole globe at a spatial resolution of 0.5° × 0.5°, and the calculation interval is 1 day. All the interactions were simulated in a single computer program, and all water fluxes and storage were strictly traceable at any place and time during the simulation period. A global hydrological simulation was conducted to validate the performance of the model for the period of 1979–2013 (land use was fixed for the year 2000). The simulated water fluxes for water abstraction were validated against those reported in earlier publications and showed a reasonable agreement at the global and country level. The simulated monthly river discharge and terrestrial water storage (TWS) for six of the world's most significantly human-affected river basins were compared with gauge observations and the data derived from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission. It is found that the simulation including the newly added schemes outperformed the simulation without human activities. The simulated results indicated that, in 2000, of the 3628±75 km3 yr−1 global freshwater requirement, 2839±50 km3 yr−1 was taken from surface water and 789±30 km3 yr−1 from groundwater. Streamflow, aqueduct water transfer, local reservoirs, and seawater desalination accounted for 1786±23, 199±10, 106±5, and 1.8±0 km3 yr−1 of the surface water, respectively. The remaining 747±45 km3 yr−1 freshwater requirement was unmet, or surface water was not available when and where it was needed in our simulation. Renewable and nonrenewable groundwater accounted for 607±11 and 182±26 km3 yr−1 of the groundwater total, respectively. Each source differed in its renewability, economic costs for development, and environmental consequences of usage. The model is useful for performing global water resource assessments by considering the aspects of sustainability, economy, and environment.

Please read the corrigendum first before accessing the article.


The requested paper has a corresponding corrigendum published. Please read the corrigendum first before downloading the article.

Short summary
Six schemes were added to the H08 global hydrological model (GHM) to represent human water abstraction more accurately and ensure that all water fluxes and storage are traceable in each grid cell at a daily interval. The schemes of local reservoirs, aqueduct water transfer, and seawater desalination were incorporated into GHMs for the first time, to the best of our knowledge. H08 has become one of the most detailed GHMs for attributing water sources available to humanity.