Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-799
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-799
13 May 2024
 | 13 May 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Long-term Hydro-economic Analysis Tool for Evaluating Global Groundwater Cost and Supply: Superwell v1.0

Hassan Niazi, Stephen B. Ferencz, Neal T. Graham, Jim Yoon, Thomas B. Wild, Mohamad Hejazi, David J. Watson, and Chris R. Vernon

Abstract. Groundwater plays a key role in meeting water demands, supplying over 40 % of irrigation water globally, with this role likely to grow as water demands and surface water variability increase. A better understanding of the future role of groundwater in meeting sectoral demands requires an integrated hydro-economic evaluation of its cost and availability. Yet substantial gaps remain in our knowledge and modeling capabilities related to groundwater availability, feasible locations for extraction, extractable volumes, and associated extraction costs, which are essential for large-scale analyses of integrated human-water systems scenarios, particularly at the global scale. To address these needs, we developed Superwell, a physics-based groundwater extraction and cost accounting model that operates at 0.5° (≈50x50 km) gridded spatial resolution with global coverage. The model produces location-specific groundwater supply-cost curves that provide the levelized cost to access different quantities of available groundwater. The inputs to Superwell include recent high-resolution hydrogeologic datasets of permeability, porosity, aquifer thickness, depth to water table, and hydrogeological complexity zones. It also accounts for well capital and maintenance costs, and the energy costs required to lift water to the surface. The model employs a Theis-based scheme coupled with an amortization-based cost accounting formulation to simulate groundwater extraction and quantify the cost of groundwater pumping. The result is a spatiotemporally flexible, physically-realistic, economics-based model that produces groundwater supply-cost curves. We show examples of these supply-cost curves and the insights that can be derived from them across a set of scenarios designed to explore model outcomes. The supply-cost curves produced by the model show that most nonrenewable groundwater in storage globally is extractable at costs lower than 0.23 USD/m3, while half of the volume remains extractable at under 0.138 USD/m3. We also demonstrate and discuss examples of how these cost curves could be used by linking Superwell’s outputs with other models to explore coupled human-environmental systems challenges, such as water resources planning and management, or broader analyses of multi-sectoral feedbacks.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Hassan Niazi, Stephen B. Ferencz, Neal T. Graham, Jim Yoon, Thomas B. Wild, Mohamad Hejazi, David J. Watson, and Chris R. Vernon

Status: open (until 08 Jul 2024)

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Hassan Niazi, Stephen B. Ferencz, Neal T. Graham, Jim Yoon, Thomas B. Wild, Mohamad Hejazi, David J. Watson, and Chris R. Vernon

Data sets

Global Geo-processed Data of Aquifer Properties by 0.5° Grid, Country and Water Basins H. Niazi et al. https://doi.org/10.57931/2307831

Globally Gridded Groundwater Extraction Volumes and Costs under Six Depletion and Ponded Depth Targets H. Niazi et al. https://doi.org/10.57931/2307832

Model code and software

superwell: v1.0 H. Niazi et al. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10828260

Hassan Niazi, Stephen B. Ferencz, Neal T. Graham, Jim Yoon, Thomas B. Wild, Mohamad Hejazi, David J. Watson, and Chris R. Vernon

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Short summary
Superwell is a physics-based hydro-economic model that helps understand the costs and availability of groundwater worldwide. It calculates how much groundwater can be extracted and at what cost, using detailed maps and data of the Earth's below-ground properties. Through these estimates, and by using them with other models, Superwell facilitates exploration of coupled human-environmental systems challenges, such as future water supply sustainability or multi-sectoral energy-water-land feedbacks.