NI: Enhancing global hydrological models with local knowledge

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen


The assessment of water resources at both the global and regional scales is currently a major concern for scientists and policy makers due to the increasing incidence of water scarcity and extreme water-related hazards affecting the globe in the last 50 years. This concern will become even more relevant should future climate projections for the XXI Century become a reality in the coming years. The hydrological modelling community is aware that there is a need to look at the large-scale fluxes of water but also to consider the use of water at smaller scales. However, much of the work done until this moment on this regard has focused on achieving hyper-resolution of models, while the ability of these new modelling approaches to provide relevant and reliable information to catchment water management has received relatively less attention. This project initiates a collaboration between the large-scale modelling and the catchment modelling communities, aiming to fill a gap whose existence is often recognised but sparsely studied. The overall research objective of this project is to explore and design an approach for integrating Catchment Water Management Models (CWMM) with Large-Scale Hydrological Models (LHM), and to assess its potential and limitations to enhance the quality of information LHMs provide at a regional scale. This project will deliver an integrated programme of knowledge exchange - on selected the CWMM and LHM, AQUATOOL and CWatM respectively, and their capabilities - and research - developing a proof-of-concept to couple both models in the heavily managed, data-rich Ebro River Basin (Spain), in collaboration with three leading institutions on global and regional hydrological modelling. The main project output will be a proof-of-concept of an advanced CWatM model for the Ebro River basin that efficiently couples water management and other human interactions with the hydrological system. The new version of CWatM will allow for a better evaluation of human impacts on water availability, overcoming the current limitations LHMs to faithfully represent regional hydrology. This will translate into substantial progress not only for the hydrological science community, but for the climate and earth system science communities. The outcomes of this project will be the onset of further collaborative research to produce a generalised version of the proof-of-concept which will be applicable to understand and address pressing regional water issues, such as transboundary conflicts, which are traditionally hampered by data securitisation. The generalised version can also serve as a benchmark for the benefits of modelling-based water resources assessment and management in developing countries with low water governance, which may encourage investments in capacity building and data collation to conduct their own analyses, which this partnership can support.
Description EEAD Ebro 
Organisation Estación Experimental de Aula Dei
Country Spain 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We are developing AQUATOOL and CWatM models of the Ebro basin.
Collaborator Contribution The EEAD-CSIC contribution to this project will consist of: 1. Support to Dr. Haro-Monteagudo and Dr. Momblanch regarding the modelling tasks of the Ebro River basin, through data provision and assessment of model outcomes. 2. Liaison with the Ebro River agency and key stakeholders to organise a 1-day workshop in Zaragoza around month 16 of the project, including the provision of meeting spaces. 3. My participation in project meetings with all other partners. 4. Preparation of communications for scientific meetings and co-writing of research articles.
Impact Submission of abstract to EGU22 conference
Start Year 2021
Description IIASA CWatM collaboration 
Organisation International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Country Austria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are developing a hydrological model of the Ebro River basin (Spain) with the CWatM model, developed by IIASA. We have collated all the necessary data to build the model and we will implement it later in the project.
Collaborator Contribution 1. Co-guidance of Dr Haro-Monteagudo and Dr Momblanch with regard to the CWatM modelling tasks. 2. Participation of Dr. Kahil and Dr. Burek in project meetings with all other partners. 3. Preparation of communications for scientific meetings and co-writing of research articles. So far, IIASA has provided support to initiate modelling work with CWatM model for the Ebro River basin. They have contributed to drafting a conference abstract and presentation. They will continue to provide support and guidance in the project's modelling efforts.
Impact Abstract submission to EGU22 conference
Start Year 2021