EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Karst integration into groundwater recharge simulation in WaterGAP 

Wenhua Wan and Petra Döll
Wenhua Wan and Petra Döll

Karst aquifers cover a significant portion of the global water supply. However, a proper representation of groundwater recharge in karst areas is completely absent in the state-of-art global hydrological models. This study, based on the new version of the global hydrological model WaterGAP, (1) presented the first modeling of diffuse groundwater recharge (GWR) in all karst regions using the global map of karstifiable rocks; and (2) adjusted the current GWR algorithm with the up-to-date databases of slope and soil. A large number of ground-based recharge estimates on 818 half degree cells including 75 in karst areas were compared to model results. GWR in karst landscapes assuming equal to the runoff from soil leads to unbiased estimation. The majority of simulated mean annual recharge ranges from 0.6 mm/yr (10th percentile) to 326.9 mm/yr (90th) in nonkarst regions, and 7.5 mm/yr (10th) to 740.2 mm/yr (90th) in karst regions. The recharge rate ranges from 2% to 66% of precipitation according to ground-based estimates in karst regions, while the simulated GWR produces global recharge fractions between 4% (10th) to 68% (90th) in karst areas while that in nonkarst areas rarely exceeds 25%. Unlike the previous studies that claimed global hydrological models consistently underestimate recharge, we observed underestimation only in the very humid regions where recharge exceeds 300 mm/yr. These very high recharge estimates are likely to include preferential flow and adopt a finer spatial and temporal scale than the global model. In karst landscapes and arid regions, we demonstrate that WaterGAP incorporating karst algorithm gives a worthy performance.


How to cite: Wan, W. and Döll, P.: Karst integration into groundwater recharge simulation in WaterGAP , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15656,, 2023.