The future for global water assessment

R.J. Harding, G.P. Weedon, H.A.J. van Lanen, D.B. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The global water cycle is a fundamental component of our climate and Earth system. Many, if not the majority, of the impacts of climate change are water related. We have an imperfect description and understanding of components of the water cycle. This arises from an incomplete observation of some of the stores and fluxes in the water cycle (in particular: precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture and groundwater), problems with the simulation of precipitation by global climate models and the wide diversity of global hydrological models currently in use. This paper discusses these sources of errors and, in particular, explores the errors and advantages of bias correcting climate model outputs for hydrological models using a single large catchment as an example (the Rhine). One conclusion from this analysis is that bias correction is necessary and has an impact on the mean flows and their seasonal cycle. However choice of hydrological model has an equal, if not larger effect on the quality of the simulation. The paper highlights the importance of improving hydrological models, which run at a continental and global scale, and the importance of quantifying uncertainties in impact studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-193
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • multimodel ensemble
  • bias correction
  • climate
  • precipitation
  • model
  • runoff
  • impact
  • 20th-century
  • temperature
  • drought

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