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Publication Date
4 October 2022

Water balance model (WBM) v.1.0.0: a scalable gridded global hydrologic model with water-tracking functionality



This paper describes the University of New Hampshire Water Balance Model, WBM, a process-based gridded global hydrologic model that simulates the land surface components of the global water cycle and includes water extraction for use in agriculture and domestic sectors. The WBM was first published in 1989; here, we describe the first fully open-source WBM version (v.1.0.0). Earlier descriptions of WBM methods provide the foundation for the most recent model version that is detailed here. We present an overview of the model functionality, utility, and evaluation of simulated global river discharge and irrigation water use. This new version adds a novel suite of water source tracking modules that enable the analysis of flow-path histories on water supply. A key feature of WBM v.1.0.0 is the ability to identify the partitioning of sources for each stock or flux within the model. Three different categories of tracking are available: (1) primary inputs of water to the surface of the terrestrial hydrologic cycle (liquid precipitation, snowmelt, glacier melt, and unsustainable groundwater); (2) water that has been extracted for human use and returned to the terrestrial hydrologic system; and (3) runoff originating from user-defined spatial land units. Such component tracking provides a more fully transparent model in that users can identify the underlying mechanisms generating the simulated behavior. We find that WBM v.1.0.0 simulates global river discharge and irrigation water withdrawals well, even with default parameter settings, and for the first time, we are able to show how the simulation arrives at these fluxes by using the novel tracking functions.

Grogan, Danielle S., Shan Zuidema, Alex Prusevich, Wilfred M. Wollheim, Stanley Glidden, and Richard B. Lammers. 2022. “Water Balance Model (Wbm) V.1.0.0: A Scalable Gridded Global Hydrologic Model With Water-Tracking Functionality”. Geoscientific Model Development 15 (19). Copernicus GmbH: 7287-7323. doi:10.5194/gmd-15-7287-2022.
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