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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 4
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2117-2133, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2117-2133, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Apr 2018

Research article | 06 Apr 2018

Reconstruction of global gridded monthly sectoral water withdrawals for 1971–2010 and analysis of their spatiotemporal patterns

Zhongwei Huang1,2,5, Mohamad Hejazi2,3, Xinya Li4, Qiuhong Tang1,5, Chris Vernon4, Guoyong Leng2, Yaling Liu2, Petra Döll6,7, Stephanie Eisner8, Dieter Gerten9,10, Naota Hanasaki11, and Yoshihide Wada12 Zhongwei Huang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, MD, USA
  • 3Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • 4Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 5University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 6Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 7Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 8Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
  • 9Research Domain of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany
  • 10Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 11Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 12International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria

Abstract. Human water withdrawal has increasingly altered the global water cycle in past decades, yet our understanding of its driving forces and patterns is limited. Reported historical estimates of sectoral water withdrawals are often sparse and incomplete, mainly restricted to water withdrawal estimates available at annual and country scales, due to a lack of observations at seasonal and local scales. In this study, through collecting and consolidating various sources of reported data and developing spatial and temporal statistical downscaling algorithms, we reconstruct a global monthly gridded (0.5°) sectoral water withdrawal dataset for the period 1971–2010, which distinguishes six water use sectors, i.e., irrigation, domestic, electricity generation (cooling of thermal power plants), livestock, mining, and manufacturing. Based on the reconstructed dataset, the spatial and temporal patterns of historical water withdrawal are analyzed. Results show that total global water withdrawal has increased significantly during 1971–2010, mainly driven by the increase in irrigation water withdrawal. Regions with high water withdrawal are those densely populated or with large irrigated cropland production, e.g., the United States (US), eastern China, India, and Europe. Seasonally, irrigation water withdrawal in summer for the major crops contributes a large percentage of total annual irrigation water withdrawal in mid- and high-latitude regions, and the dominant season of irrigation water withdrawal is also different across regions. Domestic water withdrawal is mostly characterized by a summer peak, while water withdrawal for electricity generation has a winter peak in high-latitude regions and a summer peak in low-latitude regions. Despite the overall increasing trend, irrigation in the western US and domestic water withdrawal in western Europe exhibit a decreasing trend. Our results highlight the distinct spatial pattern of human water use by sectors at the seasonal and annual timescales. The reconstructed gridded water withdrawal dataset is open access, and can be used for examining issues related to water withdrawals at fine spatial, temporal, and sectoral scales.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study generate a historical global monthly gridded water withdrawal data (0.5 × 0.5 degrees) for the period 1971–2010, distinguishing six water use sectors (irrigation, domestic, electricity generation, livestock, mining, and manufacturing). This dataset is the first reconstructed global water withdrawal data product at sub-annual and gridded resolution that is derived from different models and data sources, and was generated by spatially and temporally downscaling country-scale estimates.
This study generate a historical global monthly gridded water withdrawal data (0.5 × 0.5...