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Recent progresses in incorporating human land–water management into global land surface models toward their integration into Earth system models

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The global water cycle has been profoundly affected by human land–water management. As the changes in the water cycle on land can affect the functioning of a wide range of biophysical and biogeochemical processes of the Earth system, it is essential to represent human land–water management in Earth system models (ESMs). During the recent past, noteworthy progress has been made in large‐scale modeling of human impacts on the water cycle but sufficient advancements have not yet been made in integrating the newly developed schemes into ESMs. This study reviews the progresses made in incorporating human factors in large‐scale hydrological models and their integration into ESMs. The study focuses primarily on the recent advancements and existing challenges in incorporating human impacts in global land surface models (LSMs) as a way forward to the development of ESMs with humans as integral components, but a brief review of global hydrological models (GHMs) is also provided. The study begins with the general overview of human impacts on the water cycle. Then, the algorithms currently employed to represent irrigation, reservoir operation, and groundwater pumping are discussed. Next, methodological deficiencies in current modeling approaches and existing challenges are identified. Furthermore, light is shed on the sources of uncertainties associated with model parameterizations, grid resolution, and datasets used for forcing and validation. Finally, representing human land–water management in LSMs is highlighted as an important research direction toward developing integrated models using ESM frameworks for the holistic study of human–water interactions within the Earths system. WIREs Water 2016, 3:548–574. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1150 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
A schematic of global water cycle depicting the major natural processes and human land–water management practices. The three major human factors discussed in the study are shown in boldface. The fluxes and river storage are taken from Ref , reservoir storage from Ref , and groundwater withdrawals from Ref . The total withdrawals (agricultural, domestic, and industrial) sum up to ~3810 km3/year of which ~730 km3/year comes from groundwater (see Table and ).
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Global groundwater depletion around 2000 simulated by HiGW‐MAT model (a), and the anomaly of water table depth averaged over the High Plains (b) and Central Valley (c) aquifers also simulated by HiGW‐MAT.
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Comparison of the seasonal cycle of river discharge simulated with and without considering human impacts with observations obtained from the Global Runoff Data Center (GRDC).
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Simulated global irrigation water withdrawals in million km3 (MCM) per year.
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Groundwater withdrawals per 0.5 degree grid cell for circa 2000, compiled by Wada et al. based on the groundwater database of the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC). The inset depicts the time series of global total withdrawals from 1900 to 2010.
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Global distribution of large reservoirs (storage capacity > 0.5 km3) from GRanD database. The inset shows the cumulative change in global total storage capacity from 1900 to 2010.
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Global cropland (a–c) and irrigated (d–f) areas in 1900, 1950, and 2005 shown as the percentage of the area within 5 arc minute grid cells. The insets show the temporal changes in global total values from 1900 to 2005.
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A schematic representation of various pathways whereby human land–water management practices interact with and affect various land–atmosphere–ocean processes simulated by Earth System Models. Blue color indicates storages and green indicates temperature.
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