A distributed monthly water balance model: formulation and application on Black Volta Basin

Khodayar Abdollahi, Imtiaz Bashir, Boud Verbeiren, Mahamane Harouna, Ann Van Griensven, Marijke Huysmans, Okke Batelaan

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    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Recharge assessment is of critical importance for groundwater resources evaluation in arid/semiarid areas, as these have typically limited surface water resources. There are several models for water balance evaluation. One of them is WetSpass, which has the ability to simulate spatially distributed recharge, surface runoff, and evapotranspiration for seasonally averaged conditions. This paper presents a modified methodology and model, WetSpass-M, in which the seasonal resolution is downscaled to a monthly scale. A generalized runoff coefficient was introduced, enabling runoff estimation for different land-use classes. WetSpass-M has been calibrated and validated with observed streamflow records from Black Volta. Base-flow from simulated recharge was compared with base-flow derived via a digital filter applied to the observed streamflow and has shown to be in agreement. Previous studies have concluded that for this basin, small changes in rainfall could cause a large change in surface runoff, and here a similar behavior is observed for recharge rates. An advantage of the new model is that it is applicable to medium- and large-sized catchments. It is useful as an assessment tool for evaluating the response of hydrological processes to the changes in associated hydrological variables. Since monthly data for streamflow and climatic variables are widely available, this new model has the potential to be used in regions where data availability at high temporal resolution is an issue. The spatial–temporal characteristics of the model allow distributed quantification of water balance components by taking advantage of remote sensing data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number198
    Pages (from-to)Art: 198
    Number of pages18
    JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Monthly water balance
    • Open-source software
    • Recharge
    • Runoff coefficient


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