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Title: Improving the representation of hydrologic processes in Earth System Models

Many of the scientific and societal challenges in understanding and preparing for global environmental change rest upon our ability to understand and predict the water cycle change at large river basin, continent, and global scales. However, current large-scale models, such as the land components of Earth System Models (ESMs), do not yet represent the terrestrial water cycle in a fully integrated manner or resolve the finer-scale processes that can dominate large-scale water budgets. This paper reviews the current representation of hydrologic processes in ESMs and identifies the key opportunities for improvement. This review suggests that (1) the development of ESMs has not kept pace with modeling advances in hydrology, both through neglecting key processes (e.g., groundwater) and neglecting key aspects of spatial variability and hydrologic connectivity; and (2) many modeling advances in hydrology can readily be incorporated into ESMs and substantially improve predictions of the water cycle. Accelerating modeling advances in ESMs requires comprehensive hydrologic benchmarking activities, in order to systematically evaluate competing modeling alternatives, understand model weaknesses, and prioritize model development needs. This demands stronger collaboration, both through greater engagement of hydrologists in ESM development and through more detailed evaluation of ESM processes in research watersheds. Advances in themore » representation of hydrologic process in ESMs can substantially improve energy, carbon and nutrient cycle prediction capabilities through the fundamental role the water cycle plays in regulating these cycles.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [9] ;  [10] ;  [1] ;  [11]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder Colorado USA
  2. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick New Jersey USA
  3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman Washington USA
  4. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, South Bend Indiana USA
  5. The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.
  6. Nichols Schools of Environment, Duke University, Durham North Carolina USA
  7. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland Washington USA
  8. Department of Geography, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo New York USA
  9. Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden Colorado USA
  10. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, State College Pennsylvania USA
  11. Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson Arizona USA
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0043-1397; KP1703020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Water Resources Research; Journal Volume: 51; Journal Issue: 8
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States