Evaluating a reservoir parametrisation in the vector-based global routing model mizuRoute (v2.0.1) for Earth System Model coupling


Human-controlled reservoirs have a large influence on the global water cycle. While global hydrological models use generic parametrisations to model human dam operations, the representation of reservoir regulation is often still lacking in Earth System Models. Here we implement and evaluate a widely used reservoir parametrisation in the global river routing model mizuRoute, which operates on a vector-based river network resolving individual lakes and reservoirs, and which is currently being coupled to an Earth System Model. We develop an approach to determine the downstream area over which to aggregate irrigation water demand per reservoir. The implementation of managed reservoirs is evaluated by comparing to simulations ignoring inland waters, and simulations with reservoirs represented as natural lakes, using (i) local simulations for 26 individual reservoirs driven by observed inflows, and (ii) global-scale simulations driven by runoff from the Community Land Model. The local simulations show a clear added value of the reservoir parametrisation, especially for simulating storage for large reservoirs with a multi-year storage capacity. In the global-scale application, the implementation of reservoirs shows an improvement in outflow and storage compared to the no-reservoir simulation, but compared to the natural lake parametrisation, an overall similar performance is found. This lack of impact could be attributed to biases in simulated river discharge, mainly originating from biases in simulated runoff from the Community Land Model. Finally, the comparison of modelled monthly streamflow indices against observations highlights that the inclusion of dam operations improves the streamflow simulation compared to ignoring lakes and reservoirs. This study overall underlines the need to further develop and test water management parametrisations, as well as to improve runoff simulations for advancing the representation of anthropogenic interference with the terrestrial water cycle in Earth System Models.

Geoscientific Model Development