Indian Forum for Water Adroit

GRUN: An observations-based global gridded runoff dataset from 1902 to 2014

Pankaj Dey

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  • Institute : Indian Institute of Science
  • Programming language : MATLAB, R
Freshwater resources are of high societal relevance and understanding their past variability is vital to water management in the context of current and future climatic change. This study introduces a global gridded monthly reconstruction of runoff covering the period from 1902 to 2014. In-situ streamflow observations are used to train a machine learning algorithm that predicts monthly runoff rates based on antecedent precipitation and temperature from an atmospheric reanalysis. The accuracy of this reconstruction is assessed with cross-validation and compared with an independent set of discharge observations for large river basins. The presented dataset agrees on average better with the streamflow observations than an ensemble of 13 state-of-the art global hydrological model runoff simulations. We estimate a global long-term mean runoff of 37 419 km3 yr−1 in agreement with previous assessments. The temporal coverage of the reconstruction offers an unprecedented view on large-scale features of runoff variability also in regions with limited data coverage, making it an ideal candidate for large-scale hydro-climatic process studies, water resources assessments and for evaluating and refining existing hydrological models. The paper closes with example applications fostering the understanding of global freshwater dynamics, interannual variability, drought propagation and the response of runoff to atmospheric teleconnections.

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