Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 4169-4193, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
23 Aug 2017
Human–water interface in hydrological modelling: current status and future directions
Yoshihide Wada1,2, Marc F. P. Bierkens2,3, Ad de Roo2,4, Paul A. Dirmeyer5, James S. Famiglietti6, Naota Hanasaki7, Megan Konar8, Junguo Liu1,9, Hannes Müller Schmied10,11, Taikan Oki12,13, Yadu Pokhrel14, Murugesu Sivapalan8,15, Tara J. Troy16, Albert I. J. M. van Dijk17, Tim van Emmerik18, Marjolein H. J. Van Huijgevoort19, Henny A. J. Van Lanen20, Charles J. Vörösmarty21,22, Niko Wanders2,23, and Howard Wheater24 1International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria
2Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, the Netherlands
3Unit Soil and Groundwater Systems, Deltares, Princetonlaan 6, 3584 CB Utrecht, the Netherlands
4Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Via Enrico Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy
5Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, George Mason University, 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
6NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
7National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan
8Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 205 N Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
9School of Environmental Science and Engineering, South University of Science and Technology of China, No. 1008, Xueyuan Blvd, Nanshan, Shenzhen, 518055, China
10Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe University, Altenhoeferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
11Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
12Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan
13United Nations University, 5 Chome-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan
14Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
15Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Springfield Avenue, Champaign, IL 61801, USA
16Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, 1 West Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18015-3001, USA
17Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University, Linnaeus Way, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
18Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, the Netherlands
19Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, 300 Forrestal Rd, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
20Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, 6708 BP Wageningen, the Netherlands
21Environmental Sciences Initiative, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, 85 St Nicholas Terrace, New York, NY 10031, USA
22Civil Engineering Department, The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031, USA
23Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, 59 Olden St, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
24Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, 11 Innovation Blvd, Saskatoon, SK S7N 3H5, Canada
Abstract. Over recent decades, the global population has been rapidly increasing and human activities have altered terrestrial water fluxes to an unprecedented extent. The phenomenal growth of the human footprint has significantly modified hydrological processes in various ways (e.g. irrigation, artificial dams, and water diversion) and at various scales (from a watershed to the globe). During the early 1990s, awareness of the potential for increased water scarcity led to the first detailed global water resource assessments. Shortly thereafter, in order to analyse the human perturbation on terrestrial water resources, the first generation of large-scale hydrological models (LHMs) was produced. However, at this early stage few models considered the interaction between terrestrial water fluxes and human activities, including water use and reservoir regulation, and even fewer models distinguished water use from surface water and groundwater resources. Since the early 2000s, a growing number of LHMs have incorporated human impacts on the hydrological cycle, yet the representation of human activities in hydrological models remains challenging. In this paper we provide a synthesis of progress in the development and application of human impact modelling in LHMs. We highlight a number of key challenges and discuss possible improvements in order to better represent the human–water interface in hydrological models.

Citation: Wada, Y., Bierkens, M. F. P., de Roo, A., Dirmeyer, P. A., Famiglietti, J. S., Hanasaki, N., Konar, M., Liu, J., Müller Schmied, H., Oki, T., Pokhrel, Y., Sivapalan, M., Troy, T. J., van Dijk, A. I. J. M., van Emmerik, T., Van Huijgevoort, M. H. J., Van Lanen, H. A. J., Vörösmarty, C. J., Wanders, N., and Wheater, H.: Human–water interface in hydrological modelling: current status and future directions, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 4169-4193,, 2017.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Rapidly increasing population and human activities have altered terrestrial water fluxes on an unprecedented scale. Awareness of potential water scarcity led to first global water resource assessments; however, few hydrological models considered the interaction between terrestrial water fluxes and human activities. Our contribution highlights the importance of human activities transforming the Earth's water cycle, and how hydrological models can include such influences in an integrated manner.
Rapidly increasing population and human activities have altered terrestrial water fluxes on an...